University of Guyana (UG) Vice-Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith says the planned increase in tuition fees is an overdue decision that is intended to widen the institution’s revenue base so that it can deliver the best services.
Griffith told Stabroek News that the university council decided to institute a 15% increase in tuition fees for continuing students and an 18% increase for new students in the 2017-2018 academic year, in addition to a 10% increase in the 2018-2019 academic year and another 10% in the 2019-2010 academic year.
Offering the rationale behind the decision, Griffith said the university’s fees “are way below what we should be asking, especially since we have to do so many things to bring the university back.”
He added that there are a number of high schools and other onshore and offshore universities that are charging higher fees than UG, which cannot expect to do a credible job and offer the best teaching facilities, research and other services without asking for a better base of income.
He noted that when fees were reintroduced at the university in 1994, they were pegged at US$1,000. “The exchange rate then was GY$127 to US$1. The reality is that the tuition fees did not keep pace with expenditure,” he said, while pointing out that a calculation at the current exchange rate would see fees being “vastly higher” than those currently in place.
He also pointed out that there has not been an increase in tuition fees since 2014, while the planned application of a 5% increase over the following three years did not materialise.
“The income base for the university has been traditionally from the government subvention and tuition fees. My intent is to broaden each of those,” he said, while pointing out that more has to be asked of both the government and the students.
Griffith also made reference to the UG medical school’s application for accreditation, which he said would come at a steep cost. “I am almost positive that we are going to get that accreditation but not without conditions. We will have to have more full-time lecturers, better equipment and research facilities. Where will that come from if we don’t increase the pool of resources?” he questioned, while highlighting that the university has various other obligations that it cannot commit to without having an increase.
He also pointed out that he has started a conversation with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on the estimated cost to deliver degrees and diplomas. “I’ll tell you something, when the report comes out people will be shocked at what the tuition should be,” he added.
Students of the Turkeyen Campus had staged a protest last Thursday against the plans for the phased tuition fee hikes.
The protest was held outside the Education Lecture Theatre, where the University Council met.
Students had said that the university should raise the standards at the institution, including the facilities before asking for a raise in tuition fees.