Approval of new UG council expected by next week – Harmon

Cabinet is set to approve a new Council for the University of Guyana (UG) next week, according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon.

Speaking at a post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday, Harmon explained that Cabinet discussed the composition of the Council at its last meeting but has still to identify two members.

“There were some concerns which had been noted and Cabinet asked the Minister of Education to address those two issues… representation of women’s interest and representation of indigenous interest. Cabinet asked the relevant subject ministers to make recommendations,” Harmon explained.

The university has been without a functioning Council since July, 2017. In its absence, the administration recently announced a series of increases for various services, while stating that they had been approved by the previous Council. The University of Guyana Students’ Society (UGSS) has since indicated that it would file a legal challenge to the increases on the basis of the Council’s absence.

“…Until you present the budget for 2018, as approved by the Council, there’s locus standi…so our view is that we want to go to the court and let the court say to us whether we are right in our interpretation or the administration is right in its interpretation,” UGSS President Norwell Hinds told a town hall-style meeting on Tuesday.

Last Thursday, the university dispatched an email to its students announcing the new fee structure, including 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.

The University of Guyana Act dictates that the Council shall consist of 26 members, including the Chancellor, Pro Chancellor, and Principal and Vice Chancellors. The other members, according to the Act, must be drawn as follows: One person to be nominated by the Committee of Deans; one person to be nominated by the Academic Board; one from the Guild of Graduates; one from the Student Society, one from the University of Guyana Workers’ Union; one from the Ministry of Education and Cultural Development; one from the Ministry of Finance; one from the political party in office; one from the minority leader; four from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) which in the opinion of the Minister best represents the interest of women, farmers, Amerindians and business; one from the Guyana Trades Union Congress; three by the Minister to contribute in the field of medicine and law; six persons identified by the Chancellor and of which one shall be from each of the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada, American University of State Colleges and Universities, Committee for International Cooperation and Higher Education of the United Kingdom and the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Meanwhile, Harmon stated that the composition of the Police Service Commission and Public Service Commission is being considered by the Parliamentary Committee on Appointments, after which it will be presented to the full House for approval.

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