The University of Guyana unions are extremely concerned at the government’s delay in appointing a new University Council. The University of Guyana Act and the Statutes, give the council a very important and central role in the university’s governance. There are several committees of the university which require council members, and which have not met for several months, including the committee which oversees the university’s finances, and the one which looks after the university’s appointments and promotions.
The life of the last University Council expired on 12th July 2017, and as a result the governance of the university has since then been vested in its Vice-Chancellor. As might be imagined, in such a situation good governance and proper oversight could be replaced by arbitrariness and unilateralism.
The unions wrote to Mr Vibert A Welch, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, on two separate occasions about this: on 28th August 2017, then on 29th September, 2017. Phone calls were also made on 18th and 19th September, 2017, about this matter. We never heard from Mr Welch. Personal visits were also made to the Ministry of Education in October 2017 to enquire about the appointment of the new council.
On January 2nd 2018, we wrote to Minister Nicolette Henry about the matter. The letter was hand delivered directly to the Minister’s office. We have not received even an acknowledgement of that letter to date.
We were appreciative of the effort made by the previous Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, to appoint a non-partisan council; organizations submitted their own nominees, and the government did not simply name persons they selected as representatives of particular groups. We urge the government to continue this admirable precedent.
The University of Guyana needs to have a council. We are calling on the President to ensure that one is appointed without further delay.