SENEGAL: UGB prepares for expansion - and fees hikes

Senegal's ]University of Gaston Berger (UGB) in Saint-Louis is expanding, with the opening of new departments and courses, an increased intake of students - and enrolment fees that will more than double for students taking their first degree, say press reports.

Under its diversification plans UGB, Senegal's second biggest university, will progressively open two new education and research units from October, reported the Agence de Presse Sénégalaise (APS) of Dakar. They will be for education, training and sports sciences (SEFS), and civilisations, religions, arts and communication (CRAC).

When fully functioning SEFS will comprise three departments - one for training secondary school teachers and specialist inspectors; the second in educational sciences; and the third in sports, said APS.

CRACS will consist of a centre of studies of religions and sections for African languages and civilisations; for professional training in arts and culture; for communication; and for computer graphics.

APS said that because of the university's current limitations of infrastructure and human and financial resources, the units would open progressively over the next few years.

In addition, the university is introducing new courses in existing departments. These are licences (bachelor equivalents) in applied economics, in management and in the teaching of mathematics.

In 2010 the university created departments of agronomic sciences, of aquaculture and food technology, and of health sciences. UGB's other departments are those of arts and human sciences; applied sciences and technology; law and political science; economics and management sciences; health sciences.

The university also announced it would increase its intake of new students by 31.27% in the coming academic year, though no numbers were given. The decision is in line with the policy of the Minister for Higher Education, Amadou Tidiane Bâ, to provide higher education places for all school-leavers who pass their baccalauréat examination.

Out of 76,312 candidates who sat the exam in the summer, 29,936 were successful - a national pass rate of 38.4%, reported Diaspora En Ligne of Dakar.

Less welcome news for licence students is UGB's announcement that their enrolment fees will more than double at the coming university year.

The university's director of communications, Mor Faye, told a press conference the fees would rise from CFA6,000 (US$13) to CFA15,000 for these students, while for masters and doctorates they would be fixed at CFA30,000 and CFA35,000 respectively, reported APS.

Faye said the increase was necessary to "settle definitively the recurring problem of funding the professional masters courses which for two years has been the source of a crisis that has disrupted the institution".

It was also necessary for introduction of 'LMD' (licence, master-doctorat) - the higher education degree system based on Europe's Bologna process. "This kitty will allow the payment of charges linked to the costs of these masters with payment for local and foreign teachers," he said.

* This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.