Despite the clarion calls for the autonomy of the Berbice campus and the purported benefits of this, it is important to first to analyse the governance structures of higher education and weigh their benefits and disadvantages before making a decision on supporting or rejecting calls for autonomy.
An analysis of public higher educational institutions across the world reveals that they are not only embedded in multifarious social and political contexts, but also utilize different terminology, thereby making direct comparisons or empirical analysis difficult. Some broad patterns, however, emerge:
· The governance structures of multi-campus higher education institutions can be placed on a continuum where the multi-campus uni-governance university structure lies at one extreme and a system of autonomous university campuses at the other.
· Though the calls for autonomy are many, they are primarily driven by the psychological suffocation of the people, the programmes, and the community.
· The benefits of autonomous campuses are overwhelmingly positive. Among the top ones is the congruence of the university’s goals with that of the needs of the local community, a concomitantly highly motivated student body, faculty, and community.
· Among the top disadvantages of the multi-campus uni-governance model is that it does not have the time, resources or expertise in relation to each campus to judge whether a proposal is a good one or not – resulting in inappropriate programmes and a waste of time, money, and resources.
· Except in the case of some previously dictatorial political systems and a tiny scattering of democracies, the multi-campus one-governance model appears to be a dying breed, spiralling rapidly into obsolescence.
Moreover, the accusations of dictatorial policies toward staff and education at Turkeyen reported in the press are of concern and must be analysed. It has been noted that the leader of the Berbice campus, Dr Samad, has devoted his life towards the education of his country, and asks for nothing but the basic necessities in life and the freedom to educate the people of his region. He has resisted pressures from both political sides to overtly join them, viewing allegiance to any one party as giving up his neutrality.
Instead, he sees it as more important to give his full support to all agencies, regardless of party or race.
This is a brave but dangerous stand, since the man in the middle takes beatings from both sides.
And yet, it is well known from feedback and media reports that Professor Samad works well with almost all government ministries.
Furthermore, given the testimonies of the students, policemen, farmers, fishermen, businessmen, some local politicians, and indeed the residents of this region on the success, influence, and importance of this campus across Berbice under his leadership, I call on Dr Samad to rescind his resignation. Similarly, I call on the government, the Turkeyen leadership, and other stakeholders to evaluate the positive benefits of autonomous v authoritarian-type structures and make the appropriate decision in the interest of Berbice and ultimately all of Guyana.