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University students protest tuition fee hike; administration mum

by Abigail Semple

ug5percent_protestSeveral University of Guyana (UG) students on Monday began what is scheduled to be a week of protests against the University’s recently announced 5% increase in fees.

The students, who comprised of mainly first and second year Social Sciences scholars, said they are protesting the fact that the increase was made without their consent as well as them not seeing much improvement in the university’s facilities.

During an interview with Demerara Waves Online News, Jamicia Mc Calman, noted that the issue is not exactly the increase as it is the timing in which it has been imposed upon them. The second year Social Sciences student stated that, “a lot of students are saying they don’t mind the increase but what really are they paying for?”

“The services that they (UG) continuously say that will be changed you aren’t seeing any progress. As a matter of fact it’s like a backward ever, forward never movement that’s happening.”ug5protest

In agreement with Mc Calman was Ashley Wilson, who questioned the motives for the increase. “It’s not because it’s just 5%, it’s what the 5% is doing. What have they done for us to prove that they can increase our fees? There are still poor facilities, there’s not any improvements on campus,” she said.

Among the problems the less than 20 students listed as needing improvement are the lecture rooms’ dysfunctional Public Address (PA) systems, lack of ventilation in the classrooms, steady blackouts, and washrooms being in deplorable conditions. Those, they said, are supposed to be taken care of by the miscellaneous fees paid by students, which is now GYD$50,000.

In relation to this, McCalman stated that since the term started, “we haven’t had a lot of classes because of blackouts, the PA systems aren’t working; no microphones, so lecturers have to raise their voices to teach over two hundred students with just their voices…We went into a classroom last week and instead of seeing a room ventilated, it’s industrial fan in the room…There isn’t any progress, the washrooms are still in deplorable conditions, there’s a washroom by the Christian Room, it’s continuously flooding, the grass…they’re waiting for it to reach the same height as the university buildings before they can weed it, so no progress at all. As a matter of fact, it’s worse than it was last semester.”

Elsie Harry, another student, was adamant that she will not be paying the new fees. “We’re not paying this 5% increase. As a matter of fact, I’m going to pay my invoice as it is, and if the University of Guyana wants to tell me that I cannot come to school, I will come to school anyway because this is our university and decisions for our university cannot be made without us,” she boldly stated.

ug5_protestShe said the university is a health hazard since garbage is not being collected on time, and she also mentioned the deplorable state of the toilets. As such, she said, “we are not paying 5% increase for a health hazard.
As such, the protesting students expressed their expectation that the increase would be going towards taking care of the university’s facilities.

As the small number of protesting students made their way around campus, they chanted, “Education, not inflation!”, “No increase!”, and “No 5%, get it from the government!”. Many stopped what they were doing to look on, and this prompted the picketers to shout, “Stop looking on, join in the strike!”

Several non protesting students were approached by this Demerara Waves Online News as the small number of protesters were making their way around the campus grounds. These non protesters expressed that they were neither informed nor aware of there being a protest. To this, McCalmon explained that the move was one of short notice, but that they will be protesting outside of the Office of the President on Tuesday and then back on campus on Wednesday. She encouraged students to come out an join in the “strike against the hike”.

Meanwhile, both University of Guyana’s Registrar, Dr. Nigel Gravesande and the newly elected UGSS President, Ron Glasgow, stated that the matter is engaging the administration at the highest level and, a meeting headed by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith is scheduled to take place.

Both Gravesande and Glasgow declined to divulge information on the matter until after the meeting. The Registrar has promised the media a comprehensive press release on discussions made. It was revealed by both Gravesande and some of the protesters that the issue of a fee increase was slated to occur since 2014.

The UG administration is yet to issue a public statement on the increase in tuition fees.

  • rs dasai

    Negotiate to clean up and get fees reductions.

    • Col123

      That is what the govt. is lacking!… These kids should be provided means to contribute to society as they pursue their studies…too bad part job options are not readily available!

      • rs dasai

        Their PT jobs will be be caretakers of the property for which they negotiate for fees reduction. Barter their way to a degree.

  • Col123

    Lots of sistas in the protest line up!!..Where are the freedom fightas????

  • ChosenNChrist

    Everyone will talk but few will ever act. For those who have it, there will be talk then the amount will be paid. For those who don’t, there may be silence, perhaps a bended knee, but then the worry of how it will be paid. Some students attend U.G and work earnestly to become the best that they can be, to be better than the rest, marketable. This is the principle that all should adapt. No. Don’t stop talking. Register your displeasure either to man or to the Lord but make provisions for your success. There are no limits to the human potential and nothing should be a barrier.

  • Pam

    This is so unfair.! .UG.ceased to offer quality education a long time ago. The students are right to ask what the hell they are paying the increase for. The physical conditions at UG. are a damn disgrace and that campus does not deserve to be called a University. Most of the students are from poor families and make extreme sacrifices to attend classes,why make it impossible for some to complete their education now? Young and ambitious Guyanese should not waste their time with UG. they should just leave Guyana and make sacrifices else- where for a better quality of education that will give them a better quality of life also.

  • Lucy

    First thing the kids should do is ask him to reduce back his salary! The president of Guyana makes $315, 000 USD and Obama makes $415,000 USD….The poor kids parent on average are making NO MORE than $5000 USD per year….Do the math and see the % difference…Now taxing them more, increase their day to day cost of living is what these morons are doing instead of fulfilling their fake PROMISED they made to the people during pre-election….GOOD LIFE HAS BEGAN! Hope TRUMP wins the USA election and send a FEW more living in the USA who supported them to enjoy some of the GOOD LIFE TOO!