The University was established by an Act of Parliament in April 1963 (University of Guyana Act, Chapter 39:02, Act 6 of 1963, Amended by 5 of 1965, O.14/1965, Section 4; 21 of 1977, 19 of 1993 and 14 of 1995.). The University’s main campus is sited at Turkeyen, approximately 8km east of the centre of the capital Georgetown. In order to extend services beyond Region # 4, the Department of Extra Mural Studies was established in 1976 and upgraded in 1996 to the Institute of Distance & Continuing Education (IDCE). In 2000, a second campus was created at Tain, Berbice (Region # 6) to fulfill a similar expansion of access.
The Genesis of the University of Guyana
In February 1963 the Minister of Education and Social Development, Hon. Mr Cedric Nunes, presented provisional paper, No. 2 of 1963, “A Memorandum on Higher Education” in the British Guiana Legislative Council. The paper focused on the government’s intention to set up the University of Guyana. The rationale of the People’s Progressive Party Government under Dr. Cheddi Jagan was based on financial, educational and philosophical grounds. They argued that both the present and future needs of Guiana would be better served by an institution more responsive to the direct needs of the country. There was also an urgent need for coordination in the area of local training to provide the skilled manpower and womanpower requisites in a nation on the threshold of political independence. There was, for instance, the need for more and better-trained teachers and other personnel in the education system. The paper noted that out of a secondary school teacher population of 500 only about 144 were suitably qualified. Above and beyond this severe inadequacy was the need to rationalize resources and to achieve a more cost-effective relationship between investments and national returns. For instance, between 1948 and 1961, Guyana had invested $ 694,000 in training at the University of the West Indies and had received in return only 97 graduates, a mere 41 of whom had returned to serve the country. But there were ideological concerns as well. The curriculum at the University of the West Indies was considered somewhat elitist and unsuited to the needs of an independent Guyana. There was therefore the critical necessity to produce, and be influenced by, a University Curriculum more relevant to the needs of a country: reflecting more closely the social and cultural ideas of an independent nation. The legislature agreed that the curriculum of the new University of Guyana would be relevant to the needs of the Guyanese society and that that University would become a reputable centre of higher education where large numbers of Guyanese would be trained and educated at low cost. In this centre, personnel for the civil service, teachers for the education system, and programmes of industrial, agriculture and social development would be the main focus. In its concluding arguments the 1963 PPP Government insisted that the University of Guyana should, as a matter of critical necessity, encourage active research to stimulate the intellectual life of the society and to bring about practical solutions to the myriad problems facing the new nation.
The new Memorandum was keenly debated both in and out of the legislature but eventually the University of Guyana Ordinance of April 19, 1963 received safe passage, clearing the way for the establishment of the University of Guyana.
The University will be academically stable and will have consolidated its curriculum in a manner that reflects the needs and constraints of Guyana and be on a trajectory to a Centre of Excellence for the delivery of tertiary programmes, for its administration and management, and as a leader in research that contributes meaningfully to the development of Guyana and all mankind.
In 2001, the Academic Board formulated the mission of the University in the following terms: to discover, generate, disseminate and apply knowledge of the highest standard for the service of the community, the nation and of all mankind within an atmosphere of academic freedom that allows for free and critical enquiry. In 2009 a Strategic Plan 2009 – 2012 Advancing Management, Infrastructure, and Quality (AMIQ) was launched. AMIQ articulated the following elements:
When the University of Guyana was established in 1963, it was stated that ‘The aims of the University are to provide a place of education, learning and research of a standard required and expected of a University of the highest standard, and to secure the advancement of knowledge and the diffusion and extension of arts, sciences and learning throughout Guyana’.
In pursuit of this vision and mission, the University will endeavour at all times to display the following core values:
- Equal access regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, nationality, political, religious or social standing.
- Equity in the treatment of employees and students of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, nationality, political, religious, or social standing.
- A rewarding, enabling and safe environment where staff and students can perform to the best of their abilities and develop their careers.
- A culture of responsible and respectful conduct by staff and students in all activities within and outside the university.
- High standards of ethics and conduct in administration, management, organisational behaviour, research and teaching.
- Responsiveness to the continuing, professional and higher education needs of Guyana.
- High quality academic programmes and research.
- An environment aimed at developing in its students, a respect for their country.
- A campus environment that enables the learning experience of its students and fosters their lifelong relationship with the University.
- Prudent fiscal management.
One of the expected outcomes of AMIQ is to promote research and development pertinent to national needs by a Board for Graduate Studies review (by June 2010) driving development of graduate programmes. The establishment of a University of Guyana School of Graduate Studies and Research operating on the founding principles of existing graduate programmes already established at the University may be the requisite outcome.
After six months of deliberations of a Subcommittee from the DVC-AE under the leadership of Prof. Michael Scott, on September 4 2020, the AP&P's gave the endorsement to the creation of the University of Guyana School of Graduate Studies and Research (UG SGSR). The Board of Graduate Studies (BoGS), already created as an Statutory Subsidiary Board of the Academic Board to administer the policies, rules and procedures for Graduate programmes for approval by the Academic Board continue its functions as the executive and advisory arm of the School.