University of Guyana (UG) graduating students will now have to pay a graduation fee, even as the administration of that tertiary institution warned that lecturers would be punished for delivering students’ grades late.
The institution said the Finance and General Purposes Committee (F&GPC) of The University of Guyana (UG) at its statutory meeting on Monday, July 11, 2016, took several major decisions as part of efforts to improve the university’s financial condition and services to students.
Among other things, the F&GPC meeting, at which representatives of the University of Guyana Student Society, the University Council, and the University of Guyana Workers Union were present, approved the proposal by Vice-Chancellor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith to implement an annual graduation fee from November 2016. All eligible graduating students attending the ceremony will be required to pay a graduation fee of G$10,000, while students not in attendance will pay a fee of $7,000.
This new fee will cover the provision of gowns to the relevant students; rental of chairs and public address system for the ceremony; the Chancellor’s reception for students; the provision of diplomas; and the publication of graduation programmes and convocation booklets, among other things. Moreover, for the first time, graduating students will be provided with diploma covers to safely store their certificates.
The proposal noted that UG has been financing the graduation exercises from its scarce resources throughout its life. As tuition fees can be used only for instruction costs, expenses incurred for graduation had to be funded from elsewhere, and the expenditure associated with the ceremonies has been increasing over the years. According to the UG Bursar’s Office, for example, Convocation-related expenditure for 2013 was $3,036,052; for 2014, it rose to $5,158,510; and in 2015, it grew to $8,340,766.
According to UG Registrar,Dr. Nigel Gravesande, “A recent survey of institutions of learning locally, regionally and internationally, revealed that a Graduation Fee is mandatory.” Graduation fees are paid at all levels in Guyana, from nursery to secondary, and they range from G$3,000.00 at nursery schools to G$5,000.00 at secondary schools. A survey of the Caribbean showed that fees range from US$55.32 for non-Degree Awards, Certificates, Diplomas and Associate Degrees to US$86.92 for a Bachelor’s Degree and US$94.83 for a Master’s Degree and US$213.36 for a Doctorate Degree. The new fee is part of Vice Chancellor Griffith’s effort to generate revenue to offset expenses at the nation’s sole national university.
A second major decision of the F&GPC relates to the perennial problem of the non-submission of grades by some lecturers. The failure of some lecturers to meet the official timeline for the submission of mark sheets has been an issue for several decades now, and it has resulted in the Examination Division being unable to post grades on time. This has had several negative impacts on students, including the delay in finalising prospective graduates’ profile; students being unable to matriculate from one programme to the next; unnecessary delays in processing official transcripts for students; delays in student course registrations and delays in the sitting of supplemental/resit examinations.
The Meeting, at which a representative from the staff union was present, agreed on a regime of sanctions for non-compliance by lecturers. These include, but are not limited to, non-renewal of contracts, disqualification from receiving salary increments, and the inclusion of the timely submission of grades as an integral part of performance appraisal. Letters will also be sent to all defaulting faculty members urging them to submit all outstanding grades by July 15, 2016.
The Vice-Chancellor voiced his commitment to ending this disservice to and disrespect for students, and he pledged to implement fully the decision of the F&GPC. Thesanctions take immediate effect.
As part of the pursuit of greater transparency at UG, the major decisions of the F&GPC now will be published at the end of each meeting. Vice-Chancellor Griffith also proposes to recommend the same course of action to the University Council, the governing body of The University of Guyana.
With a current enrollment of some 8,000 students, UG has graduated more than 20,000 students who have gone on to successful careers locally, regionally and internationally. The University is also a major contributor to the national economy and to business and industry. Established in 1963 with one campus, at Turkeyen, The University of Guyana (UG) expanded in 2000 with the addition of the Tain Campus. It now offers more than 60 under-graduate and post-graduate programmes including Engineering, Environmental Studies, Forestry, Urban Planning and Management, Tourism Studies, Education, Creative Arts, Economics, Law, Medicine, Optometry and Nursing. Several online programmes are available and UG also offers extra-mural classes at four locations through its Institute of Distance and Continuing Education. UG also offers the opportunity for student engagement in debating, sports, and cultural, religious and professional activities.