By Leroy M. Sonpon III
The University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU) has written a three-page letter to House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay to buttress the appeal of the UL administration for a budgetary increment of US$26 million.
In a letter dated June 19, ULSU president Jerome D. Barnard said the amount would address the growth and development of the university, renovate the dilapidated academic infrastructure, provide basic IT facilities to include computer labs, modern laboratory apparatus, equip the library, and provide a standard campus-based medical response unit.
He said the allocation would also improve the sanitary environment, alleviate major transportation constraints, and the unavailable student internship program.
In a four-count recommendation to the House, which was read on Tuesday, June 20, during the 41st day sitting of the 6th session, ULSU also wants US$1.6 million as a subsidy to the student body to take care of tuition and fees so that less-fortunate students can continue their studies.
The group called on the Legislature to use its influence to prevail on the administration of the university to provide all necessary academic infrastructures for students. They also urged the lawmakers to consider the compulsory introduction of a national internship program for junior and senior university students to enhance their job experience prior to graduation.
In a unanimous ‘yea’ vote, plenary mandated the leadership to make a sober determination on the students’ request as the way forward.
Meanwhile, during the Expenditure Component of the 2017/2018 National Draft Budget, the outgoing president of the University of Liberia, Dr. Emmett Dennis, said the university needs US$26.6 million to sustain its additional academic programs.
Dr. Dennis said six academic programs that are being added to the regular programs of the university are the Graduate School, College of Engineering, a Nursing/Midwifery Bachelor’s Program, a Bachelor’s program in Comparative Relation, the Graduate Program in Peace Studies and the Institute for Policy Studies.
He told lawmakers that UL has over 20,000 students, 1,000 members of the faculty, and 1,299 staff spread on four campuses: Fendell, Capitol Hill, Medical and the Straz-Sinje-Campus in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County.
Outlining the university’s expenditure for fiscal year 2017-2018, Dr. Dennis asked for an allocation of US$65,000 in scholarships for the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law and US$936,400 to cover the stipends of the university’s medical and pharmacy students.
Dr. Dennis also said three priorities have been tackled, including the reduction in rampant academic malfeasance; significant increase in the qualitative profile of the faculty; and a more efficient management of resources available to the university.