UGSS mulling legal challenge to increase in administrative fees

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University of Guyana Students Society (UGSS) President Norwell Hinds said that the body is contemplating mounting a legal challenge against the University of Guyana (UG) administration over the move to raise administrative fees.

The UG had outlined 28 different services offered by the administration that would be increased, in some cases to 20 per cent, while in others over a 100 per cent.

The University released a statement on Sunday, which revealed that a Special Meeting of the Finance and General Purpose Committee (F&GPC) approved the increase in various service fees since June 1, 2017.

According to the F&GPC the new administrative fees “were approved by the last year with the understanding that they would be instituted during the 2017-2018 academic year.”

According to the statement, the new fees were sanctioned after a comparative analysis revealed that the administrative fees of the University were lower when compared to other tertiary institutions. It was also stated that it has been almost a decade since these fees were last adjusted.

Moreover, the F&GPC posited that at “no point did the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar or any other senior official act unilaterally in instituting the revised fees. The new rates initially were to take effect from January 1, 2018, but they were deferred to be effective from March 1, 2018 after formal and extensive engagements with the current UGSS President and Executive Members in a spirit of genuine and transparent collaboration.”

However, the current UGSS Executive, which was installed in October of 2017, is disagreeing with that contention.

The UGSS President maintained that a new Council has not been installed yet; hence, the “unilateral decision” by Vice Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith, to implement the new fees was “unconstitutional”.

He explained that the body was seeking the court’s opinion so as to prevent any further reoccurrence of such an issue.

“Our interpretation is that the action to implement the fees requires the approval of the Council. That is our contention and the University disagrees and their contention is that the approval of 2017 stands. Our position is that the approval of 2017 was a part of budget estimates for 2017 so until you present the budget for 2018 as approved by the Council, there is no legal standing,” Hinds said.

“Our view is that we want to go to the court and let the court say to us whether we are right in our interpretation or the administration is right. We are pursuing it (the court action) right away. We have been doing that since last week,” he added, while shying away from revealing when they would file for the proceedings to commence.

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