University of Guyana (UG) students will not attend their convocation ceremony if “exorbitant” graduation fees are instituted, says University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS) President Ron Glasgow.
Glasgow stated that the Society has been approached by students saying that they will not attend the convocation graduation exercise once the fees come into effect. He said students have referred to the fees as being too exorbitant.
The University recently announced that they will be charging a $10,000 graduation fee from November 2016 for all students attending the ceremony and those who do not attend will still have to pay $7000.
This decision was passed following a joint meeting between the Finance and General Purposes Committee (F&GPC) of the University, representatives of the University of Guyana Student Society, the University Council, and the University of Guyana Workers Union. It was made at a statutory meeting on Monday where several other decisions were made as efforts to enhance the tertiary institution’s financial condition and services to its students.
The proposal was approved by Vice Chancellor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith.
Glasgow stated that the Association at the meeting indicated that if the fees are to come into effect then the standard of the University should improve. He stated that the campus had already raised fees last year and nothing substantial was done.
Students are constantly complaining about poor facilities, out-dated curriculums, heavy fees, and late release of grades by lecturers.
However, according to a statement from the University, this new fee will cover the provision of gowns to the relevant students; rental of chairs and public address system for the ceremony; the Chancellor’s reception for students; the provision of diplomas; and the publication of graduation programmes and convocation booklets, among other things. Moreover, for the first time, graduating students will be provided with diploma covers to safely store their certificates.
The statement added that the University has been financing the graduation ceremony from its “scarce resources” throughout its life.
“As tuition fees can be used only for instruction costs, expenses incurred for graduation had to be funded from elsewhere, and the expenditure associated with the ceremonies has been increasing over the years,” the statement read, highlighting that the UG Bursar’s Office reported Convocation-related expenditure for 2013 was $3,036,052; for 2014, it rose to $5,158,510; and in 2015, it grew to $8,340,766.
UG Registrar, Dr Nigel Gravesande, stated, “A recent survey of institutions of learning locally, regionally and internationally, revealed that a Graduation Fee is mandatory.”
Graduation fees are paid at all levels in Guyana, from nursery to secondary, and they range from G$3000 at nursery schools to G$5000 at secondary schools. It stated that a survey of the Caribbean showed that fees range from US$55.32 for non-Degree Awards, Certificates, Diplomas and Associate Degrees to US$86.92 for a Bachelor’s Degree and US$94.83 for a Master’s Degree and US$213.36 for a Doctorate Degree.
“The new fee is part of Vice Chancellor Griffith’s effort to generate revenue to offset expenses at the nation’s sole national University,” it added.
Non-submission of grades
Another issue which was raised at the meeting was the recurrence of the non-submission of grades by some lecturers. The failure of some lecturers to meet the official timeline for the submission of mark sheets has been an issue for several decades now, and it has resulted in the University’s examination division being unable to post grades on time.
It has impacted students negatively, including the delay in finalising prospective graduates’ profile; students being unable to matriculate from one programme to the next; unnecessary delays in processing official transcripts for students; delays in student course registrations and delays in the sitting of supplemental/re-sit examinations.
Thus, the Finance and General Purposes Committee agreed on a regime of sanctions for non-compliance by lecturers. These include, but are not limited to, non-renewal of contracts, disqualification from receiving salary increments, and the inclusion of the timely submission of grades as an integral part of performance appraisal. Letters will also be sent to all defaulting faculty members urging them to submit all outstanding grades by July 15, 2016.
“The Vice Chancellor voiced his commitment to ending this disservice to and disrespect for students, and he pledged to implement fully the decision of the F&GPC. The sanctions take immediate effect,” it read.