The Government of Guyana does have a say in the programmes offered by UG

Dear Editor,

Please provide me the space to respond to the comments attributed to the Minister of Health, Dr Ramsammy, in the Kaieteur News September 20 article ‘Govt. should have a say in what programmes UG offers.‘ I would like to respond to five statements in the article.

1. “Minister Ramsammy criticized the decision of the UG’s administration not to offer medical programmes, even though such programmes can benefit the general population.“

The university’s Academic Board submitted and the Vice-Chancellor approved the submission by the Faculty of Health Sciences to offer degree programmes in Pharmacy and Optometry in April 2010. In September 2010, the university replaced the Associate Degree in Pharmacy with the Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacy and also offered Bachelor’s degrees in Optometry and Rehabilitation Sciences at a proposed fee of $250,000 following a pattern in which cost recovery was associated with new programmes. The matter came before the University Council in November 2010 because some students were affected by the unavailability of loans for the new programmes. At its February 2011 meeting, the Council did not approve the fees proposed and decided that the fee of $127,000 would hold for 2010-2011. The Council further instructed the administration to submit its recommendations for the academic year 2011-2012 to the Finance and General Purposes Committee.

In June 2011, the Vice-Chancellor, acting on the decision of the Council, in recognition of the cost per capita of the programmes and in the interest of their continuity, requested the guidance of the UG’s Finance & General Purposes Committee. In his request, the Vice-Chancellor asked the committee to consider making suggestions to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance on how a fee of $250,000 might be supported by loans and scholarships as well as how inputs might be made to the university to reduce the financial requirement on students of the programmes.
The committee decided that the university should carry to completion the batch of students admitted in 2010 at $127,000 but should not admit new students to those programmes in 2011. This decision was endorsed by the University Council at its meeting of August 17, 2011.

2. “He stated that the government should at least have a say as to what programmes are offered, since millions of dollars are pumped into the university.“
The Government of Guyana does have a say in what programmes are offered at the UG. The governing body of the University of Guyana is the University Council. Ten of the twenty voting members (eg, Ms Gail Teixeira, Mr Pulander Kandhi (MoE), Mr Nirmal Rekha (MoF) et al) are government appointees. The Finance and General Purposes Committee that made the decision above is chaired by Dr Prem Misir, (the Pro-Chancellor) and also has government representatives.

Furthermore, the university works with state agencies in the determining the relevance of offerings and the design of such programmes – with the Ministry of Health in the design of the optometry and rehabilitation sciences; with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission in respect of the geology programme and with the Guyana Forestry Commission in respect of forestry programmes, among others.

3. “Guyana has always had the Diploma programmes but we wanted to expand into the Degree programme.“

So does the university. We would appreciate the Minister’s help in accomplishing this common dream.

In like fashion, Prof Samad, as a Senior Administrator in the University of Guyana, should take advantage of the opportunities provided by his membership of the Academic Board and other university bodies to participate in accomplishing this noble effort.

4.  “Government loans are provided at no interest.“

These loans carry a five per cent interest on the reducing balance.

5.  “Running the course will cost them nothing, other than the salary of the tutors and the children’s fees will pay for it; because the practical experience that the students need are provided for free by the Ministry of Health in our hospitals.”

The Minister might wish to note that costs to the university go beyond the cost of the lecturers and include the support systems that are essential elements to the conduct of courses and programmes. Further, some laboratory exercises are provided at the Turkeyen campus.

I hope that your readers will find this information useful.

Yours faithfully,
Lawrence Carrington
Vice-Chancellor

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