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Guyana govt, UG differ on future of UG-UWI law degree collaboration

The University of Guyana

Differences have emerged between the Guyana government and the University of Guyana (UG) over whether discontinuing the collaborative agreement on the law programme  between that local tertiary institution and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus will result in the quality of that degree being diluted.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall says if UG abandons the agreement, there is a risk that the quality of the UG Law Degree may be watered down, but outgoing UG Registrar Vincent Alexander believes that the local Bachelor of Laws (LLB)  is now comparable with that of UWI and can stand without Cave Hill’s second marking and supervision.

During a meeting with UG Students-at-Law at the Ministry of Legal Affairs on Tuesday, AG Anil Nandlall said “it is important that we continue to maintain a relationship that will make UG sufficiently proximate to UWI that will find the acceptance of the CLE.”

“I believe that it is important for the integrity of the UG programme and it is important for the quality control mechanism to continue to be in place t o ensure that there is no dilution of standards at the University of Guyana,”  said the Attorney General.

As things stand the first-year final exams of UG’s law programme are second marked at Cave Hill which also supervises the overall programme. Alexander told Caribbean News Desk today that “this was the condition under which we have been allowed by the Council of Legal Education (CLE) run the full programme.” This agreement, Alexander continued, costs around US$24,000 annually.

The Registrar believes that since the agreement was struck the performance of UG’s law students has become comparable to that of their peers at UWI campuses. “There are hardly instances where second markers turn down our marks, and the quality of our markers are comparable to those at UWI.”

Among the lecturers at UG are Professor Duke Pollard, former Justice of the Court of Appeal in Belize and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ); Keith Massiah SC, former Chancellor of the Judiciary; Alexis Downes-Amsterdam, former Senior Legal Draftsperson, CARICOM Secretariat, among other things, Professor Rudolph James and the department’s head, Sheldon McDonald.

Improved performances of students, coupled with the quality of the department’s staff and exemplary performance of Guyanese students at the Hugh Wooding Law School (HWLS), Alexander believes, makes a strong case for a break away.

He said that if Nandlall “is confident in the department he would be more inclined to carry the line of this colleagues.” Cave Hill does not agree with the proposal and so the two institutions are in gridlock. Alexander says that the Council of Legal Education (CLE) has opted to allow the two sides to settle the matter in their own, but he believes its involvement is important since Cave Hill has a vested interest, financially, and is unlikely to change its opposition.

Meanwhile, Nandlall has made it clear he does not support a break away. “My preference has always been and will continue to be the continuation of an arrangement that will continue to associate the UG LLB with that of UWI. “The AG also said “if it is going to cause a problem with the students getting certified by the Council of Legal Education (CLE) we will have a problem and government will be compelled to intervene.”