The University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS) has welcomed the university’s move to reduce the cost of using its facilities from $50,000 to $25,000 for each student. This is extended for the academic year 2020-2021.
President of the UGSS, Jafar Gibbons during an interview with the News Room on Thursday, said the student body has been advocating for the decrease in the facilities fees since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic given the fact that students are no longer present on campus.
“Parents have lost their jobs, students have lost their jobs…and our facilities fees [remain the same], however, we aren’t able to access some of those facilities,” Gibbons explained.
“I can tell you from feedback from students, it has been received and welcome by all. It is fair, not only from the UGSS perspective but from those students,” he added.
Students who had already paid the full fees can be refunded the difference by writing to [email protected] and copy to [email protected] requesting that the difference be applied to their facilities fees for the next semester or academic year.
The university on Wednesday said it recognised the prevailing and escalating social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 context. The facilities fees cover laboratory equipment, classroom improvements, internet access, books and other materials.
The university, in defending its expenses, said during the pandemic, it had to expend a huge sum of money on moving classes online which was not catered for in its previous budgets.
“It is important to note that there are special unplanned costs associated with delivering 1,200 courses online while still maintaining the physical University in readiness for a seamless return,” the tertiary education institution said.
In addition, it noted that free medical and psychological services and supplies for all had to be expanded by four times to include the provision of tele medical services and provision, management and distribution of care packages for those severely affected.
The university said since April 2020, it has delivered almost 300 care packages a month and provided care and counselling for over 2,000 persons.
Further, it noted that the library has expanded e-services and there have been improvements to the facilities to ensure the need for physical distancing.