Costing study to help guide future fee increases at UG - Vice Chancellor

4th March, 2018 0 comments

There is currently the need for a costing study to be done at the University of Guyana [UG]. Discussions in this regard were recently held at the level of the Academic Board and in the company of student leaders. This is according to UG Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith, who shared this development on Thursday. Even as he emphasised the importance of costing, he underscored the need to know how much it would cost the university to produce a degree, for instance, in Civil Engineering or Mathematics. He disclosed that although currently the university offers 113 degree programmes, “we don’t have an empirical base for the decision.”

According to Professor Griffith, who was speaking at a ceremony to announce a grant from the Caribbean Development Bank [CDB] for the construction of a new library for the university, while the funding will help to provide critical infrastructure for the library, it will also help to do a variety of other things. Professor Griffith disclosed that he has shared his anxiety with the members of the Academic Board, of his desire to see the costing study be done in the coming year. This move is important since, according to him, “next year will end the third in a three-year cycle of tuition increases.”

“Next year we will need to begin to talk about what might be the increase beyond…I would like that conversation to be grounded in evidence. What it cost for a diploma, for a degree, for a Master’s Degree, for a PhD, and so I look forward to moving this process,” said the Vice Chancellor. Just recently the UG administration had cause to defend a decision to hike administrative fees, a move that the current UGSS body had fiercely condemned complete with threats to take legal recourse.

But the administration, in a statement, underscored that the increase was imperative since apart from tuition and facilities fees, there are other expenses associated with studying at the university. “These are commonly called Administrative Fees, and they cover a wide range of services, including fees for processing applications for degree, diploma and certificate programmes [adjusted from $500 to $1000], and late applications [adjusted from $2,000 to $3,000], late registration [adjusted from $10,000 to $12,000], supplemental examinations [adjusted from $1,500 to $5,000]. “The cost of personal transcripts… [has moved from $3,000 to $5,000],” the administration outlined.

It also noted that “some services that were entirely free, now attract a fee. Included here are the re-sit examinations, which now cost $6,000 and letters for students that are used for visa applications and other purposes; they now will attract a charge of $5,000.” But according to the administration, students will only be required to pay the fees if they access the associated services. It was noted that the new administrative fees will not affect all students. “Indeed, some fees do not affect current students; they affect graduates seeking transcripts and other services. A significant proportion of the requests for transcripts come from graduates residing abroad, and dispatching those transcripts carries additional costs,” the administration highlighted.

In defending its decision, the university sought to inform that administrative fees were last adjusted by the University about a decade ago. “A comparative analysis of administrative fees being paid at other local tertiary institutions reveals that the new UG fees are far from exorbitant. As adjustments to service fees are being made at the University of Guyana at this juncture, it must be underscored that over the past two years, students at the University have been witnessing numerous improvements that directly enhance their learning environment and educational experience,” the administration added.

Vice Chancellor Griffith had said, “While none of us wish to add to the costs of our students’ educational experiences, the practical reality is that running the university costs, and the government subvention does not – and cannot be expected to – cover all the costs.” Meanwhile, Professor Griffith noted that even beyond the proposed costing study, UG must also have in place a statement of economic value. “We need to know what the University of Guyana does for the nation. Every one of the little more than the 1,000 staff we have here, permanent and part time, pays taxes, buys, has mortgages…so there are economic multipliers, we need to be able to calculate what those impacts are,” Professor Griffith stated.

As such he emphasised, “we are looking forward not only for the library to have a tangible manifestation of the CDB support, but for other things that can help us have the rational basis for establishing credibility in what we provide as a resource to the society and beyond the society.”

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