– as institution moves to open Dept of Petroleum EngineeringGuyana’s premier tertiary level education institution, the University of Guyana (UG), is moving aggressively to get on board with the impending oil and gas sector by putting certain measures in place.UG Deputy Vice Chancellor for Planning and International Engagement, Dr Barbara ReynoldsDuring last week, the University hosted one of a two-part series lecture that focused on Guyana’s nascent oil and gas sector, which saw the attendance of several of its students and interested persons.Deputy Vice Chancellor for Planning and International Engagement at UG, Dr Barbara Reynolds said her institution is actively engaged in talks with advisors to craft a strategy for the UG to play its role.These advisors include Professor Andrew Jupiter and Professor Clement Imbert, both of Trinidad and Tobago eminent practitioners in the field of oil and gas, as well as Dr Vince Adams.“We have a draft strategy that we will develop and finalise so that we can engage external partners on oil and gas. It is our intention to establish a Department of Petroleum Engineering within the next academic year,” Dr Reynolds revealed.In addition to that, the University is in discussion with the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) where they are discussing plans to establish joint programmes in petroleum engineering and an associate in either engineering and a masters in petroleum engineering.Dr Reynolds said, “Those are not the only two programme offerings we would need as a country but we intend to build out from them and offer more courses in oil and gas.Further, the University currently has a group of experts working to enhance and improve the world languages programme being offered. “We are working on ensuring that over the next academic year, we have an updated and current Bachelor of Arts in French, Spanish and Portuguese and a pre university programme in Dutch and mandarin at the associate and masters level,” she added.The Deputy Vice Chancellor for Planning and International Engagement noted that this will be especially useful for persons working in the older and gas industry, as the industry will attract a lot of foreign nationals who come from diverse backgrounds and speak various languages.Three weeks ago, the University secured a $100 million grant as part of Government’s effort to help the institution establish an oil and gas programme. Last year, the Natural Resources Ministry, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the university signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a $100 million philanthropic education grant for the period 2017-2018.The grant provided the UG, Faculty of Technology with much-needed equipment for its geology labs, curriculum development, training, outreach, and field research, all linked to the emerging oil and gas sector. It also provided specific allocations for all other faculties for student-centred enhancements at the university.Professor Griffith had explained that this is one of the University’s most significant grants, with the GGMC. Griffith said it is an investment by the Government in the institution, in an area critical to the nation’s economy. He said the project is a result of UG long-standing relationship with GGMC. He highlighted the fact, that many of the Cmmission’s staff through scholarships has received their higher education at the institution. To date, 87 per cent of the finances have been pumped into realising UG’s oil and gas programme.Some $55 million was used for equipment and supplies to the Faculty of Technology’s laboratories, pursued by the GGMC, Some $10 million was expended on training; some $16 million was for infrastructural projects through UG.When Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, handed over the first tranche of the funds ($45 million) to the Vice Chancellor last year, he noted the Government views the initiative as an investment in education, and development.The Minister noted that the project is significant since “it represents a renewed and enhanced relationship with the Ministry and GGMC with the University of Guyana,” even as the oil and gas sector develops. Additionally, Trotman said similar efforts are also needed in the gold and diamond mining sectors as they will not be neglected in the period, post-2020 when oil production begins.