UG Pro-Chancellor slams Stabroek News over editorial

Guyana Chronicle
January 27, 2007

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PRO-CHANCELLOR of the University of Guyana, Dr. Prem Misir has reacted strongly to an editorial in the Stabroek News Thursday on the university, headed `The Turkeyen tragedy’.

He told the Guyana Chronicle that the editorial referred to several inadequacies at the university but noted that issues relating to UG as well as all other institutions “must be addressed holistically and encompassing activities at both the Turkeyen and Tain campuses, if we are intent on concluding definitively.”

Misir charged that the Stabroek News has “over time developed a reputation for presenting misleading and erroneous information, which bear captions that are inconsistent both with the texts as well as what actually obtains.”

“In order to effectively examine the prevailing circumstances at the university, one must first make a comparative analysis of present trends as against what existed in the past”, he argued.

In 2006, he said, the salary scale for the average employees grew by approximately 700% when compared to 1992.

1992 Lecturer 1 – US$92 + allowances

Lecturer 11 –US$109 + allowances

2005/2006 Lecturer 1 - US$623 + allowances

Lecturer11 – US$748 + allowances

Misir said funding of activities at the university is currently almost exclusively based on government subventions, as follows:

1992 Approximately US$1M

2005/2006 Approximately US$18 M

The subventions, he said, cover administrative costs which include wages and salaries, overhead expenses, as well as other services.

“The Government Student Loan revolving system at UG is not revolving in that most students are not repaying loans. This places an additional financial burden on the government”, he said.

The University of Guyana Council (UGC) is comprised of 26 members (not 21 as reported by the Stabroek News), drawn from several interest groups, Misir said. “No interest group has the majority on the UGC. Stabroek News has implied that the UGC is packed with PPP/C hacks to ensure that the status quo is preserved, again a blatant untruth”, he added.

According to the Pro-Chancellor, the Open Entrance Examination has not only increased admissions entry standards, but also is enabling people with less than the standard entry requirements to gain a second chance to experience tertiary education.

“Academic standards at UG need improvement. And all universities constantly monitor and review their standards to better performance. But improving standards is not always correlated to funding, and UG is no exception in the move to create better standards”, he said.

Misir said areas of good practice include, among others:

** Review undergraduate provision.

** Review measurable indicators of academic performance.

** Review a system for monitoring students’ progress

** Review quality assurance and standards.

** Review a system that would enable staff new to teaching to face a period of protected development and presented with opportunities to develop teaching skills.

** Review practices of the Academic Board to ensure programmes offered fully meet the university’s requirements.

** Review a system of peer evaluators.

He said the UG academic leadership needs to review these good practices for good academic standards, many of which do not require any great extra funding.

Misir argued that several reviews require innovative strategies that would drive a ‘restructuring’ of systems and the requisite allocation of human resources.

“The Stabroek News editorial lacks credibility without an analysis of these and other standards.

The government is totally committed to enhancing higher education in Guyana. The Stabroek News’ editorial has done a great disservice to tertiary education in this country”, Misir charged.