Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
…approximately 8,000 furthering education in academic year 2021/2022
By Lisa Hamilton
Over 4,000 students will be returning to the University of Guyana on October 25 in a blended format while, a few weeks later, over 2,500 freshmen will add this total, attending classes online and approximately 1,000 more will attend through distance learning centres.
According to the Registrar of the University of Guyana, Dr Nigel Gravesande, such an undertaking during the COVID-19 pandemic marks a “historic” event in the University’s history.
As of September 30, Dr. Gravesande said the record showed that 4,026 students combined will be continuing their trajectory of learning at the Turkeyen and Tain campuses. Out of the total, there were 2,804 females and 1,222 males.
“This disaggregation is indeed history. Never before in the 59-year-old history of the University have we had that kind of demographic,” Dr. Gravesande said on Friday at the inaugural continuing students’ orientation.
Notably, over 1,000 students will return to the Faculty of Social Sciences while over 99 will return to the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.
Though these are unprecedented times, Dr. Gravesande urged students to take their education and health seriously and to adjust to the new normal.
“Adversity carries with it opportunity. I urge you to let us look for those opportunities, the narrative has been predominantly doom and gloom, but I urge all of you to acknowledge the reality shared that the flip side of adversity is radical opportunity,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vice-Chancellor, Dr Paloma Mohamed Martin, acknowledged that the students are returned in unprecedented times which is why the University has made extra effort to ensure their comfort and safety. It is hoped that full face-to-face learning will take place next year.
“We are projecting that we will be able to go back, face to face, for the second semester 2022. That is, if everything remains equal and within the bounds of control…for instance, if you know how many students we have in the University right now and the kind of infrastructure it will take for us to really manage that, you know the health situation, the screening situation, it just is not going to be practical [to reopen fully] at this moment.”
Due to recent inclement weather during the last few months, about 30 of the buildings at the University were damaged whereby water got into the buildings. Emergency funds were garnered for repairs which are still ongoing — another reason classes will resume with a blended approach.
Students can also expect a new sewage system because the current is old and was built to accommodate about 600 students while the current student population is in its thousands. Meanwhile, the Student Center previously built will be fully functional, there will be improvements in the physical security at the university and an easier to navigate online environment.
Dr Mohamed-Martin also announced that the total number of persons registered at the University will stand at approximately 8,000 to 9,000 which is significant. “Those 2500 or so freshmen will join 4000 odd of you, coming back and maybe another 1000 students from the IDC centres across the country. So, this will be about 8,000 or 9000 students on the campus with 1000 staff, so it’s quite a big endeavour,” she said.
For those attending, there will be the availability of more internships, employment on campus, student welfare and support funds, research, community work and social and psychological support.
The University of Guyana is in the early stages of rolling out its blueprint 2040. In 2040, the University will be 75 years old and hopes to release four important aspirational goals centred around the improvement of staff, student and citizen success.
Dr Mohamed-Martin encouraged the students: “I really want to encourage you to try to persevere because a University education is a privilege for many people in the world. The majority of people in the world will not have access to this. In fact, the people of this country who fund this University — mostly taxpayers — many of them will never see and have never seen the inside of this University. But their taxes are coming to us so we can prepare you and that you can do great things in the world.”