The University of Guyana (UG) was launched on October 1, 1963 following assent being given to the University of Guyana Ordinance on April 18, 1963, by Governor, Sir Ralph Grey. When it opened its doors on October 2, 1963, UG functioned as an evening institution with only 164 students enrolled for classes in three Faculties – Arts, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. Classes were held between 17:30 h and 21:30 h at the Government Technical Institute and Queen’s College, where laboratory facilities could be shared.
The Booker Group of Companies provided 1450 acres of land for a campus at Turkeyen. The soil was turned by Prime Minister L.F.S. Burnham on May 24, 1966. Construction work commenced on January 2, 1968, and the first building was declared open on February 24, 1970. A major physical rehabilitation and expansion programme have since been completed, and several new buildings are now available, allowing for more classroom space among other things.
The New Building Society provided funding for the construction of a 40-room Student Halls of Residence. This building was opened on May 27, 1994 and houses students from the outlying areas of Guyana. A second Halls of Residence was constructed on campus by the Beharry Group of Companies to house 44 students while a third, the Dennis Irving Halls of Residence, was built by the University at Goedverwagting to accommodate an additional 46 students.
When it commenced operations, the annual tuition fee at the University was $100 but this was abolished in 1974. In the 1994-1995 academic year the University introduced a Cost Recovery Programme. Resident Guyanese students are now required to pay G$127,000 per annum, except for those pursuing studies in Law, Medicine, Nursing and Tourism, where the fees are $300,000, $500,000, $251,000 and $158,000 respectively. The fees are higher for non-resident Guyanese and foreign students.
In 1975, participation in National Service was made a requirement for persons wishing to pursue studies at the University. However, in 1994, approval was given by the Cabinet for the abolition of mandatory National Service for students at tertiary level education institutions.
In the 1993-1994 academic year the Semester System was introduced in the Faculties of Education and Social Sciences. This system was introduced in the remaining Faculties in 1994-1995.
The University’s current enrolment at Turkeyen is approximately 5,000 students in the Faculties of Agriculture, Arts, Education, Health Sciences, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Technology, pursuing more than 60 full time undergraduate programmes in Accountancy, Architecture, Agriculture, Education, Engineering, Communications, Environmental Science, Forestry, Law, Medicine, Modern Language, Chemistry, Pharmacy and Social Work, to name a few. There are also post-graduate programmes in the Faculties of Arts, Education, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. To date, approximately 10,000 students have graduated and gone on to successful careers.
For the 2002-2003 academic year the following programmes have been added: Degree in Nursing and Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering.
In November 2000, the University’s second Campus at Tain, Berbice, was opened, offering 2-year undergraduate Certificate programmes in Education, Diploma programmes in Accountancy, Marketing, Public Management, Social Work, English and History, and the Post-graduate Diploma in Education.
For the 2001-2002 academic year the following programmes were added: Degree in Agriculture, Associate Degree in General Science, with options in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics, and a Diploma in Computer Science. The current student population is 350.