UG student body to meet today on hike in fees

Dr Nigel Gravesande

The University of Guyana’s Student Society (UGSS) has organised a Town Hall-style meeting for today to discuss the recently announced new administrative fees, which the university maintains were not unilaterally implemented.

On Thursday, the university dispatched an email to its students announcing the new fee structure, which includes the introduction of new fees as well as the revision of old ones. The UGSS and students, independently, have voiced their opposition to the decision but UG’s administration holds that the former UGSS executive was instrumental in the decision-making process.

Public Relations Officer of the UGSS Patrick Benjamin-Huntley said yesterday that today’s meeting will address the steps to be pursued in dealing with the matter and noted that taking legal action has not been discounted as a possible option.

The meeting, announced with the tagline “Fix your system, not our fees… No improvement, no increase!” is scheduled for 5 pm at the Turkeyen Campus’ sports field.

While the society is calling for improvements, UG, in a release sent out on Sunday, pointed to the recent developments across its campuses and suggested that with a raise in fees, even more improvements will be made.

It was noted that the last time the administrative fees were updated was approximately ten years ago and that a “comparative analysis” of fees at other local tertiary institutions shows that the new fees implemented are “far from exorbitant.”

“As adjustments to service fees are being made at The University of Guyana at this juncture, it must be underscored that over the past two years, students at the University have been witnessing numerous improvements that directly enhance their learning environment and educational experience. These include, construction of a modern Student Social Complex that would be commissioned by the start of the 2018 to 2019 academic year,” the statement said.

The release also named the addition of air conditioning to the George Walcott Lecture Theatre (GWLT) and the Small Lecture Theatre, the placement of fans in classrooms, the new PA systems, improved Wi-Fi, extended service hours at the Registry and Bursary,  the establishment of an Etiquette Training Programme for student leaders, the facilitation of monthly counselling services at the Tain Campus and the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education Centres in Anna Regina, New Amsterdam and Linden, and the processing and dispatching of transcripts within 72 hours of being requested, among other milestones, as some of the improvements.

It was also pointed out that the new fees will only apply to students who make use of the services, with some fees targeting graduates only. Other fees apply only to new applicants.

In its statement, the university also reiterated its earlier claim that the UGSS had played a key role in determining the revised administrative fees, stating that immediate past president Ron Glasgow had been a part of the process.

The process in question was a special meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Committee, which was held last June.

While Registrar Dr Nigel Gravesande told Stabroek News last Friday that the meeting had determined the new tuition and administrative fees for the 2017-2018 academic year, the new UGSS executive is arguing that they were approved as part of budget estimates in the absence of the University Council and so the decision cannot stand.

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