The University of Guyana, which has never awarded an academically examined Doctoral degree, should reconsider its decision to award honorary doctoral degrees

Dear Editor

I seek space in your newspaper to publicly articulate my concerns related to the decision by the University of Guyana (UG) to award honorary doctoral degrees at its convocation later this year.

I listened to the Vice Chancellor as he presented the VC’s 2018/19 Welcome Message and most recently to his presentation at the official opening of the 2018/19 Academic year and on both occasions, he clearly announced this awkward and unusual development.

This decision has been made at a time when there are serious questions being raised related to the deteriorating quality of the institution’s graduates, and its inability to retain and attract qualified staff, among other issues. As an alumnus and former lecturer at UG, I must make it clear at the outset that in my respectful view, the university’s major focus at this time should be the consolidation of its undergraduate programmes, the gradual introduction of well- designed and staffed graduate programmes and the development of the institution as a centre of excellence in teaching and research.

While I have no problem in principle with the award of honorary degrees, the award of an honorary Doctoral degree from a university which has never awarded an academically earned doctoral degree is highly irregular and must raise concerns. I have been reminded that universities usually confer  their highest   degrees to persons who, though no completing academic degrees, have in their own fields distinguished themselves  with the rigour which can be considered equivalent to the university’s highest academic degree holders – the Ph.D graduate.

 I reiterate that UG has never awarded an academically examined Doctoral degree and I ask the UG Council to publicly state the major factors which influenced the decision to approve the award of honorary doctorates at this time.

I am disappointed (not livid) that the Chancellor and the University Council have approved this award and I wish to recommend an immediate reconsideration of the decision.

Yours faithfully,

Mark Kirton

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