The University of The Gambia (UTG) is set to conduct this semester’s final exams on December 11th and 18th, 2023 depending on the schools. According to the academic calendar, lectures for fresh students were scheduled to begin on September 18th but failed to effectively resume due to the uncertainty and untimely relocation to Faraba Bantang Campus.
In late September, the Ministry of Higher Education issued a directive for UTG to relocate to Faraba Campus without proper planning and consultation with the university authorities, faculties, staff and student bodies, which has now shortened the semester to less than a trimester period. Proper lectures for most courses started on October 09th – when the School of Business moved to Faraba – and others on October 16th. Both lecturers and students were made to understand that lectures will end on December 02nd/or 09th which has brought the proper semester to 60 days or less, instead of 15 weeks. I consider this as unfair and cheating by the University Management and Senate towards our children, bothers, and sisters. It seems to me that the university Senate usually chaired by the Vice Chancellor is not in for quality and better learning outcomes.
On November 24th, I sent an appeal email to the Registrar where the Vice Chancellor, Members of Senate, Academic and Administrative Staff, and Student Union President were copied. In that email, I suggested for the extension of the semester to allow lecturers to have their syllabuses completed as some courses are pre-requisites for others, but the suggestion was not given the due consideration. I am therefore, once again urging the university authorities to extend the semester (as previously done last year) for exams to begin after the new year break. This is the tradition at UTG when there is a serious delay caused by foreseen and/or unforeseen circumstances.
Traditionally, universities offer three semesters during each academic year: Fall semester – 15 weeks, Spring semester – 15 weeks, and Summer semester – 12 weeks. As for the case of the UTG, a regular and uninterrupted semester lasts only for 12 weeks (which include breaks like public holidays, students’ week, university orientation ceremonies for fresh students, matriculation ceremonies for fresh students, student union congresses, and a revision week for students). This has been the norm since its establishment in 1999 and has seriously affected the learning outcome and credit hours of the country’s top institution of learning.
Currently, a course per week lasts for 2 hours 30 minutes which again contradicts the 3 semester credit hours. This should be adjusted to ensure international standards and to avoid cheating the learning hours of the students.
Dr Alieu Gibba
Senior lecturer and former staff union president