EDUCATION Minister Dr Rupert Roopnarine has said he is still not entirely pleased with the state of affairs at the University of Guyana, but is however satisfied with the way the withdrawal of the five per cent increase in tuition fees was handled. “A lot of it I don’t like. The students are dissatisfied, that’s clear, and we have to look and see how we can improve the conditions for the students. I think they have a lot of legitimate grievances and we have to listen to them,” Dr Roopnaraine said.
Students were in disagreement over the abrupt five per cent increase in tuition fees that they were informed of just days prior to the commencement of classes.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith, subsequently recommended that the increase be put on hold.
Dr Roopnaraine spoke on the issue in an exclusive interview with the Guyana Chronicle earlier this week.
He is of the view that more needs to be done to improve the resources of the university, noting that students can assist in this cause, though the manner in which the hike was imposed was not fitting.
“The last thing I saw was that the Vice-Chancellor was talking about withdrawing the five per cent; that is a temporary solution. I don’t think the hike was capricious, it was done because we do need more resources at the university, and the students can make a contribution, but it was not popular and I think the Vice- Chancellor acted very sensibly,” he commented.
Dr Roopnaraine admitted that he has not paid much attention to the happenings at the university, as the Government does not seek to compromise the independence of Guyana’s tertiary education provider.
He essentially relies on the ministry’s representatives on UG’s council to transmit any recommendations it may wish to advise.
“It’s been a long time since I was there… and I can’t tell you that I have been up to the university and paid as much attention to classes and so on with what’s going on. The university has a council that is independent. The Government, we try to pay attention to what is happening at the university, but we try not to be intrusive. We do have people who sit on the council representing the ministry, so that to the extent that we want to put a view to the university, we do it through our representatives at the council,” Dr Roopnaraine said.
Upon assuming office last year, the minister had declared his intention to see the university transformed within five years, or would otherwise consider it a failure on his part.
The unrest at the university came just days before this week’s hosting of the 13th annual conference of the Caribbean Area Network for Quality Assurance in Tertiary Education (CANQATE) which ran from October 4-7.
The conference was focused on improving the quality of tertiary institutions, while creating and sustaining a culture of quality assurance in Guyana and across the wider Caribbean.