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UG Vice Chancellor Dr Ivelaw GriffithThe University of Guyana (UG) is still to commence programmes that could supplement Guyana’s newfound oil and gas sector, but Vice Chancellor, Dr Ivelaw Griffith said the institution was still in the process of making the platform available.Following an announcement by Education Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine earlier this year that a Petroleum Engineer Programme was to be introduced to the University by the new school year, officials at the country’s premier tertiary institution disclosed that the University was nowhere close to offering such programme.Asked about the progress thus far, Dr Griffith told Guyana Times recently that the University was still in talks with the Ministries with responsibility for the oil and gas sector. He informed that a few weeks ago he had met with the Registrar and UG’s Chemistry Department Head to look at what was currently offered on energy at the University.“We are not comfortable that we do not have the whole package yet. I’d like to know what we have, not only offering as classes, but what we have by way of research, because the enterprise of energy has to be researched and so we had a second effort to put one package together to understand where we are,” the VC told Guyana Times.He said the University held talks with the Natural Resources and Agriculture Ministries on a “lot of energy aspects on what is it Government anticipates needing, what it is we have and what gaps need to be filled”. He said the conversation with the respective Ministries was ongoing.“We agreed that there is a game plan and before we sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the University and the Ministry, we want to be comfortable to know what we have and what gaps are to be filled. That is where we are at the moment. I expect to have a meeting with the Minister in November with the Natural Resources Ministry and to discuss the crossovers and commonalities are,” he informed.The recent discovery of oil in Guyana’s waters by US oil and gas giant ExxonMobil has evoked a new level of hope for Guyana’s ailing economy. And while questions have been raised about whether the country’s top tertiary institution would be able to galvanise itself to help realise the promised profits to the economy, critics say the response was a far cry from what was really needed to take hold of the emerging industry.University Chancellor, Dr Nigel Harris had said earlier that the institution had better be prepared for the oil and gas sector, which promised economic growth for Guyana.“We had better be able to address that area,” the Chancellor told Guyana Times when asked on Wednesday. He was at the time addressing Journalists at a forum where he disclosed the plans the fairly new administration had for the institution.He said the US oil company has already approached the University and has been making inquiries about its current arrangement for an industry that is likely to place the country’s economy on another level.While the University is already offering programmes related to the industry, others are in the pipeline, the Professor said. However, much more needs to be done, he noted, stating that he will be arranging with the University of the West Indies (UWI), where he recently served as Vice Chancellor and international agencies, assistance for the institution.According to Harris, UWI has been training petroleum engineers and other persons in the industry for the past four decades.“It may be that the UG may not be able to provide all the staff they need. So, we are planning to link the University of Guyana with international institutions. I will be pushing for links with UWI…. It does not make sense that we have the next-door neighbours and not take advantage of the programmes,” he told Guyana Times.