UG turns sod for Student Society building

31st October, 2017 0 comments

The University of Guyana (UG) on Wednesday held a ceremonial turning of the sod for the proposed Student Society Complex Building at its Turkeyen Campus.

According to a Department of Public Information (DPI) report, the building is currently being constructed by M & P Investments on the southern section of the Turkeyen Campus. It is expected to be completed in February, 2018.

UG Vice-Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith explained that it was through the persistence of the past students’ leadership that the $60.6 million, 7,650 square ft, two-storey building would become possible. He was optimistic that the student body will make full use of the facility upon it completion, the report stated.

“I am hoping that two things happen; that the students, who are going to be beneficiaries of the hard work and investment, use this facility appropriately; [and] my second request is the incoming president and leadership find ways to reestablish the vibrancy of student life,” the report quoted him as saying.

According to the release, the incoming president of the University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS), Norwell Hinds, also commended the past student leadership’s efforts and the administrative body for the initiative.

“This student complex stands historically and symbolically at a particular juncture of transformation and transition for the university and the student society. We are particularly pleased to build upon the legacy of past presidents of the UGSS and to congratulate the administration for its efforts in this particular transformation,” the report quoted Hinds as saying.

Outgoing president Ron Glasgow highlighted that in previous years, the student population was deprived of certain benefits, since the campus lacked a student complex. He applauded the administrative committee’s support for the project.

The sod-turning ceremony saw the attendance of past UGSS presidents, who shared their views on the construction of the complex, according to the report.

“It’s a real privilege to see this project unfold…a lot of energy has been expended in the past pushing for student improved facilities and it’s a real privilege to see it come to fruition and we congratulate students and the university’s administration,” past president Sherod Duncan was quoted as saying.

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Wage hikes for academic staff should be linked to performance

31st October, 2017 0 comments

University of Guyana (UG) Vice-Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith is not backing down from his insistence that wage hikes for academic staff be tied to their performance.

“This university has lots of performance issues,” Griffith noted on Friday, while saying it would be irresponsible of him to negotiate salaries and not speak of the performance of staff.

The two workers unions, the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and the University of Guyana Workers’ Union (UGWU), have said that performance cannot be part of any agreement for 2017 wages and salaries.

Speaking to reporters after the installation of the new student council, Griffith explained that he is of the view that delinquent lecturers who do not submit their grades in timely manner should not be given a salary increase.

“It is not fair to students and it is not fair to the lecturers who submit grades on time… every lecturer is responsible for doing the right job every time. We want timely submission of grades. If you don’t submit… you should not get a salary increase,” he declared.

Following a meeting last Wednesday with the UGSSA and UGWU and trade unionist Lincoln Lewis, Griffith said that they had extracted the performance criteria clause from the original agreement and placed it as an appendix item in the document.

He explained that the administration has prepared the final document, which he has to review before tabling it once again for the unions.

“There is one principle that I enunciated that will not change: that is the performance which has to be a part of the solution…,” he said, while acknowledging that the unions shared a different view. “The union was saying there should not be anything about performance but I said no. So, I am hoping that they are bendable and they didn’t raise any objections,” said Griffith while noting that he is ready to pay the increases.

Following negotiations with the unions, the UG administration recently announced its final pay hike offer of 8% and 6% to support and academic staff members, respectively, retroactive to January 1. Griffith indicated that the administration “had done enough” and “nothing further would be provided.”

Addressing the allegation that the university administration was being secretive about the breakdown of $182 million that was allocated for the increases, Griffith maintained that it is not necessary. “The union wants to see if there is any space for more and in the context of affordability we were working on it is what we have put on the table and that is what we can afford. I will not be offering something we can’t find the money for. The $182 million is what we have and can afford…,” he said.

The unions were adamant that the administration had failed to honour all their requests for financial and other information and refused to provide the breakdown of the $182 million.

The unions are saying that according to their calculations, if $182 million was to be paid solely to academic and support staff, considering all the payments to be made for the various allowances, pensions, and NIS, it would allow for a higher offer to be made to staff.

Unions urge reform to insulate council from interference

Meanwhile, the two unions on Friday said that the impasse over wages and salaries has dragged on in part due to the absence of the University Council.

In a joint statement, the UGSSA and the UGWU noted that the life of the previous Council ended on July 12 and there has been no explanation to date about why a new Council is not in place, although they said they understand that Minister of Education Nicolette Henry is working on its formation.

The unions noted that a Governance Committee created by the last University Council is currently considering amendments to the existing UG Act and Statutes.  “The Unions, in keeping with their longstanding interest in governance, made a submission to that Committee. We feel that one of the key objectives of any reform of the existing governance structure of the University is to ensure that the Council is able to function without political interference,” they said.

As part of a movement towards this, the unions noted that they have always advocated for an appointments process for Council members that allowed the various interest groups to nominate their representatives, and that this was the approach adopted by former Minister of Education Dr Rupert Roopnaraine. “We hope that Minister Henry will also allow the organisations to nominate representatives, and so help to facilitate the Council functioning in as non-partisan a way as possible.  We are interested in having a Council that seeks what is the best for the University and undertakes to perform its oversight role with diligence and care,” they added, while expressing the hope that the new Council will be in place for the University’s Annual Business Meeting, which is usually scheduled for Convocation Week in early November.

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30th October, 2017 0 comments

The collaboration between the Office of the Vice-Chancellor and the Centre for Communication Studies (CCS) of The University of Guyana brings to you this Volume 2: No. 6 edition of Renaissance, a monthly newsletter. Renaissance is the Vice-Chancellor’s medium of sharing with you our University’s developments.

In the month of September the University was involved in many activities. Through the Office of PACE (Philanthrophy, Alumni and Civic Engagement) we hosted another successful and well attended Turkeyen and Tain Talks which focused on Constitutional Reform in Guyana. The Office of PIE (Planning and International Engagement) hosted the Vice-Chancellor’s Renaissance Lecture III, with featured speaker Sir George Alleyne, Director Emeritus, Pan American Health Organization.

In this edition take pleasure in viewing pictures from a number of Town Hall meetings, both at Turkeyen and Tain Campuses, and appreciation dinners for staff and Sir George Alleyne. Our University’s alumni and friends in New York recently held their Inaugural Renaissance Gala. We hope you enjoy these and other scenes from the Guyana Cultural Association’s Folk Festival, Family Fun Day and Kwe Kwe Night.

Additionally, the Minister of Public Telecommunications, Honourable Catherine Hughes, has been a faithful friend to UG. Through Minister Hughes’ intervention the University will benefit from the promise of broadcast licenses and the donation of 278 chairs. The Centre for Communication Studies is particularly ecstatic about the promise of broadcast licenses for both radio and television and would like to thank Minister Hughes for her tremendous support and Professor Paloma Mohamed, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (PACE), for facilitating this venture. Certainly our students and the wider University community will be better positioned to serve the needs of our fellow Guyanese.

As you read, be inspired to join us as we celebrate UG’s Renaissance! 

Click here to download the PDF file.

Submit outstanding grades or no salary increase, says UG Vice Chancellor; union boss says that will be "dishonesty"

30th October, 2017 0 comments

University of Guyana (UG) Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith said lecturers would first have to submit all outstanding grades as part of a new performance-driven criteria before they could receive salary increases for 2017, but President of the Workers Union (UGWU), Bruce Haynes said his union would have none of it.

“That is performance criteria but it cannot be tied to wages and salaries. Whatever it is that is agreed, those persons will be paid. If we sign those documents and then we are told that he has isolated those persons, he is going to be in breach of the agreement.

That is going to be a major chicanery and we are going to put him to task for that because we don’t deal with dishonest people,” Haynes told Demerara Waves Online News.

Griffith said at a meeting held Wednesday with the General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis in the presence of representatives of the Workers Union (UGWU) and Senior Staff Association (UGSSA), he insisted that performance criteria must be a prerequisite for the granting of salary increases.

Griffith said that a clause would be extracted from the Memorandum of Agreement between the UG administration and the unions and put in a separately in a letter of agreement. The major focus of performance for academics, he said, would be the submission of grades. “I am insisting that people who have outstanding grades should not get a salary increase….We have a window for everyone to turn in their grades and it is not fair to the students and it is not fair to the lecturers who turn their grades in so one indicator of performance is timely submission of grants,” he said.

He hoped that the unions would no longer object to performance criteria being part of the agreement.

Griffith said lecturers would be given one week or two weeks to turn in their grades or no monies would be handed over to the errant lecturers.

On the thorny demand by the unions for more information on how the UG’s executives would be paid  and from where the money would be drawn, Griffith made it clear that such information would not be provided. “That’s not necessary and it’s not necessary because the reason why the unions are asking for that is to see if there is any space for more and the context  for affordability is the context of what we have put on the table is what we can afford,” he said.

UG has set aside GYD$182 million to pay eight percent  to non-academic staff and six percent to academic staff retroactive to January 1, 2017.

The Vice Chancellor declared that “it would be irresponsible of me to say let’s talk salary increases and not talk performance when this university has lots of performance issues.”

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UG, GDF ink MOU for Agriculture Associate Degree

11th October, 2017 0 comments

The Guyana Defence Force and the University of Guyana today signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for educational collaboration. The signing took place at a ceremony held in the television room of Base Camp Ayanganna. Chief of Staff Brigadier Patrick West explained that the MOU which is in keeping with international norms will result in Officer Cadets of the Standard Officers’ Course Number 50 and beyond receiving Associate Degrees in the field of Agriculture.

“I am particularly pleased today to sign this MOU for academic collaboration which will enhance the academic profile of our Standard Officers’ course number 50 future standard officers’ courses of the GDF at the same time it will develop the Agriculture Corp as a Research Centre with the University of Guyana”, West said. 

According to the Brigadier, “The concept basically sees the implementation of a national security strategy that employs all instruments of national power in a more integrated way to meet the challenges faced by Guyana at this time. This would obviously require a higher degree of inter-agency cooperation to combine defence with diplomacy economic development with law enforcement and civil authority with the Defence Force.”

Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana Professor Ivelaw Griffith says the signing of the MOU is a good expression of what the leadership of the Guyana Defence Force thinks of its ranks.

“We have a critical role not only in enabling our nations individual mandates for us to educate and defend but in the context of those mandates, there are very many elements some of which mean educational collaboration is necessary not simply desired,” Vice Chancellor Griffith told representatives of UG and GDF at the ceremony.

Professor Griffith also encouraged future collaboration with the GDF, especially in the preparation of ranks of its Officer Corp for continued service after retiring their military career.

The Guyana Defence Force’s Agriculture Corp was established almost fifty years ago while the Colonel Ulric Pilgrim Officer Cadet School was established in 1981 and continues to be one of the Regions functioning military training schools.

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UG inks new agreement to further academic programmes with GDF

11th October, 2017 0 comments

As part of enhancing the national security strategy, the Guyana Defence Force, (GDF) yesterday inked a new agreement with the University of Guyana, (UG) to further the academic programme offered to army officers and ranks. According to Chief of Staff, Brigadier Patrick West, the Standard Officers Courses are set to be improved through collaboration with the tertiary institution.

The courses, the GDF Chief explained, are integral to “Effective Transformation for Total National Defence, an implementation of a national security strategy that employs all instruments of national power to meet the challenges faced by Guyana at this time.” “This would require a much higher degree of interagency cooperation than obtains at present to combine the defence with diplomacy economic development with the law enforcement and the civil authority with the Defence Force.”

Giving a brief history on the projects, Brigadier West noted that the Officer Cadet Division at the Training Corps of the GDF evolved into the first Officer Cadet School in the English-speaking Caribbean. “The initiative was undertaken to ensure that a more rounded and educated officer is prepared to fulfill his role in promoting total National Defence. To date 49 Courses have been completed.” “We will see the officer not only being involved in a horizontal relationship between Defence Force, Militia and police but also vertically at the Central and Regional levels.”

Through this initiative, the Brigadier noted that the Officer Cadet Programme will be almost on par with other international programmes. The course is set to last for 24 months. Upon graduation, the students will not only receive their instruments of Commission, to command and lead in this force, but also an associate Degree from the University. “We maintain, today, that we are still the only successful officer Cadet Programme in the English-speaking Caribbean and we will continue to support the training of officers for Joint Services and the Caribbean.”

The arrangement between the GDF and the University is not strange to Militaries and Academic communities since we have been marrying the two worldwide. “I am heartened to see that Guyana is following. I envision that in the future this collaboration will be further expanded.” Meanwhile, UG’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith noted that the University can play a role in preparing members of the disciplined forces prior to their retirement. He believes there are great opportunities for gainful employment and utilization of capabilities and skills of military men and women.

These men and women should be better positioned to take their skills and assets from the armed forces and leverage some additional skills so life after retirement is beneficial, not only for economic benefit but for gainful employment and utilization of their skills. “Within a year of transitioning and moving to retirement [the University] can help them to be better positioned for gainful economic employment,” he added. The University’s Vice Chancellor said that a report has been handed over to the government for action to be taken. The first batch of approximately 40 army officers will begin training next month.

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UG must guard against overproducing graduates - Vice-Chancellor

19th September, 2017 0 comments

THE University of Guyana (UG) has been warned to be very careful with the amount of degree programmes it offers to complement Guyana’s emerging oil- and-gas industry. This is according to Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Ivelaw Griffith, who said taking the professional recommendation into consideration, the university will be offering less degree programmes and more “short courses” in the field. In fact, he said what is actually needed at this time is more technical skills, which are being taught at the technical institutes.

Speaking with the Guyana Chronicle, Professor Griffith said what is needed for the energy sector is definitely not what has been initially touted. “It is technical skills; it is persons coming out of the technical institutes. So we have to strike a balance between investing methodically enough so that we do not overproduce,” he said. There have been much talks about Guyana’s level of preparedness as it moves to embrace the new sector, which will undoubtedly transform the country’s economy. The concerns were particularly over what role the premier tertiary institution could play in paving the way for the country in managing the oil-and-gas sector.

UG Chancellor Dr. Nigel Harris had previously sounded a warning that the university had better be prepared for the sector with new and innovative programmes. But new information reaching the institution suggests that there is much more than programmes that needs to be pursued. The advice has come from several quarters, particularly from universities in oil- producing countries. Those institutions have been doubling up on their programmes over time. Griffith said an adviser from the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine Campus said that institution made the very mistake with the energy degree programmes it offered, only to later find out that the absorptive market was not there.

“We have got to walk a thin line between starting programmes, getting a good idea of what is needed here and elsewhere and in partnership with other universities, do things that are better suited,” Griffith said. In that regard, he said UG is actively pursuing partnerships with several universities, including UWI and the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), which have very robust oil-and-gas programmes.
“I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of the West Indies in July. We will use that MoU as a part of ramping up the partnership with the UWI campus,” he said. He said he will soon be leading a mission to the UTT and the UWI to find out how they can partner to address Guyana’s peculiar situation.

The VC said it is quite clear that most of what the country needs for the oil-and- gas sector, cannot be answered by the university at this time. He said UG is however beginning conversations with its local partners, including the Ministry of Natural Resources. It has also taken a strategy for the short courses to the School of Entrepreneurship and Engineering.

“We recognise that some of what they need, we don’t have and we can’t pretend to have them overnight, so we are developing partnerships”, he told the Guyana Chronicle. The vice chancellor said as Guyana braces itself for the oil and gas sector, several questions must be answered, including what skills would the sector need, whether the university has the teaching resources to deliver the skills needed and the economic question — given what the needs are, whether the university would be better off doing some things in partnership with other institutions. “There is no sense pretending. We don’t have what will be needed in the next year or two, so we have to find partnerships, so yes, we have begun those conversations,” Griffith said.

Chancellor Nigel Harris had last year said that U.S. oil and gas company Exxon Mobil had approached the university, and was enquiring about its current arrangement for an industry that is likely to place the country’s economy on another level. He had promised to arrange for assistance from the University of the West Indies (UWI). According to Harris, UWI has been training petroleum engineers and other persons in the industry for the past four decades. “It may be that the UG may not be able to provide all the staff they need. So, we are planning to link the University of Guyana with other international institutions. I will be pushing for links with UWI…. It does not make sense that we have the next-door neighbours and not take advantage of the programmes,” Professor Harris had promised.

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Change will come only with investment - UG Vice-Chancellor

16th September, 2017 0 comments

THE University of Guyana (UG) in its attempt to stand out as a world-class tertiary institution must be able to attract considerable amounts of support and investment. By this, all stakeholders, including government, must be willing to invest not only financial resources, but every available reserve that could push it in this direction. UG Vice-Chancellor (VC) Dr Ivelaw Griffith said the changes being sought for the country’s premier tertiary institution can in no way come about if stakeholders do not invest and has even called on his critics to see the “bigger picture” in what he, and to a wider extent the university’s administration, is trying to achieve.

During an exclusive interview with the Guyana Chronicle on Tuesday, the vice- chancellor, who has been serving in the capacity for just over a year, said the university has been receiving much criticism, especially by persons who have a “myopic view of reality” and who are stuck in the past. Most of the criticisms, he said, are not based on facts. “This university is not a university of the 1970s. Over the years, the institution grew in student numbers but not in support system, not in full-time lecturers or administration. If you are going to make improvements at the university, you will have to spend,” Dr Griffith told this newspaper.

The professor had received some criticisms following a multimillion-dollar proposal to the university’s Council earlier this year for the renting of a Camp Street, Georgetown facility, which would have been regarded as a “downtown campus.” That proposal was shut down by the Council; however, it did approve the establishment of a School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “The idea of that new campus was to do some innovation and expansion. It was not only to spend money, but to make money. To establish a business development unit,” he said.

The professor said there are still sections of society that are accustomed to “the cheap.” “The cheap does not earn you respect and investment,” he said, continuing that whether it is the proposed “downtown campus” or any other, “this university has to go beyond Tain and Turkeyen.” He said the university’s population has grown to some 8,000 students and with that magnitude, the institution continues to endure complications, including sewerage and parking space.

“We are not going to get a changed university until we are willing to invest. We need to be willing to invest. Ask graduates to invest, ask government to invest, businesses and also we have to be innovative,” he maintained. He made reference to a 2012 Hamilton Associates Report, which addressed the university’s need to pay better salaries, having at least four deputy vice-chancellors and a better support system. A task force established by Chancellor Dr. Nigel Harris also pointed out similar deficits. While steps are being taken to make the necessary changes, the efforts have been stymied. “The university must be the enabler of better educational and economical livelihoods. The university must be an agent for change and innovation. It must also be the place that has a developmental role linking Guyana to the rest of the communities including the Caribbean, other parts of South America.”

Professor Griffith said the university is at a point where it has been neglected and under-resourced, noting that there is need for a massive infusion of funding. That funding, he pointed out, is not expected only from government. “It has to go beyond government. It has to ask how we can connect with graduates, with Guyanese in the business world and non-Guyanese who have a passion for education who want to give back to the university. We are not going to be able to do those things if we only tinker with what we know, if we are averse to change and innovation.” According to him, while steps are being taken to upgrade the level of faculties and teaching staff, he said lecturers are not going to come to the university with the salaries it pays. He said a university is not only a teaching institution, but also a business. “Think of being a lecturer, a researcher, where every day your power goes out, not only at the university, but at home.”

He said there are conditions that will have to be improved in the university and society to be able to attract lecturers. “So part of my strategy was to look to see who in the diaspora would want to come back as I did for less pay, come back and endure circumstances of insufficient labs, power shortages, etc. It’s not about getting new lecturers, it’s about creating the conditions for the qualified lecturers to come, not as a way station to stay for a few months.”

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UG Turkeyen Campus to have two convocations

16th September, 2017 0 comments

THE University of Guyana (UG)’s Turkeyen Campus will this year observe its annual convocation ceremony in two parts, Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ivelaw Griffith has said. The graduation exercise will be held on November 11, and will have two sessions. According to Dr Griffith, the move is an attempt to reduce the lengthy hours spent at the graduation ceremony. “One of the things we are doing differently is, we are going to have two graduation ceremonies rather than one. There are four to five hours, and by the time you get to technology, half the people gone,” the VC said on Tuesday.

“Why not create two shorter ceremonies and excite people who are graduates to come back,” he added. The two ceremonies will have two former graduates as guest speakers. The first session, which will be held early in the day, will hear from Guyana’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) and former UG student, Mr Michael Tenpow. The name of the second speaker is yet to be announced, he said. The following week, on November 18, the Tain Campus will hold its graduation ceremony, and will have as its guest speaker Lawyer and graduate, Ms Patricia Bacchus. The vice-chancellor said he hopes to begin a culture of inviting graduates to speak at convocations going forward, “so that students can see what they can become in the future.”

Meanwhile, the university has announced that it has added some 16 new programmes/ courses to the 2017/2018 Academic year. These courses include eight from the newly established School of Education and Business Innovation (SEBI), and include the Bachelors of Science in Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Management, Marketing, Supply Chain Management, Tourism Management and Special Education Needs. The other programmes are an Associate of Science Degree in Mining Engineering; and a Bachelor of Science in either Environmental Science, Forestry, Industrial Engineering, Medicine or Surgery.

There are also the Master of Social Work, Master of Science in Agro-Technology and Business, and Master of Medicine in Diagnostic Radiology.

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The University of Guyana Investiture Ceremony 2017

16th August, 2017 0 comments

Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith was officially installed as the tenth Vice-Chancellor of University of Guyana.

The Investiture of Professor Griffith will formally grant him the authority and symbols of high office.

June 14, 2017, was the one-year anniversary of Professor Griffith’s selection as the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal.

This historic ceremony, the first of its kind for a Vice-Chancellor at the University of Guyana, will involve a procession with faculty attired in academic regalia and the conferring of the official powers and responsibilities of the office to Professor Griffith by the Chancellor of UG Professor Nigel Harris.

Contact Us

  • The University of Guyana
    Turkeyen Campus
    Greater Georgetown
  • +(592)-222-2740