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UTG Lecturer Alleges Management Favors Friends Over Merit In Staff Promotions

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Dr. Alieu Gibba, Lecturer at the University of The Gambia 

By Buba Gagigo 

Dr. Alieu Gibba, a lecturer at the University of The Gambia (UTG), has accused the university’s management of promoting staff based on personal connections rather than merit.

“Promotions for academic staff at the University of The Gambia (UTG) are usually not on merit-based; rather, they are to some extent based on connections, which means those who are close and friendly to the Senior Management Team of the University get quickly promoted, while others who are critical and honest towards the management and governance of the nation’s top learning institution are to some degree sidelined. This, to all intentions and purposes, is inconsistent with what is in the Condition of Service of UTG, which clearly states that, all promotions should be based on merit in terms of research and publications,” he said.

Dr. Gibba claimed that some staff members have been promoted verbally without meeting the necessary requirements, and others through voting. He specifically mentioned a well-known professor, now in government, who was promoted from Senior Lecturer to Associate Professor and then to Full Professor without any journal publications. Dr. Gibba argued that this constitutes academic dishonesty and breaches UTG’s legal guidelines.

He expounded that according to the UTG Condition of Service, “Appointment/promotion to the grade of Full Professor shall be on the basis of distinguished and continuing contribution to scholarship expressed mainly in the form of a substantial body of distinguished research publications (normally a minimum of five good publications in reputable academic journals) since appointment/promotion as Associate Professor as well as evidence of academic leadership including abilities to initiate and supervise research”. He said.

Dr. Gibba recounted that on May 4, 2023, a call for promotions was made, and several Gambians applied for various academic ranks. The Promotion Committee, formed by the UTG Management, submitted their recommendations months ago to Professor Herbert Robinson, the Vice Chancellor (VC) of UTG. However, he noted that the VC appears reluctant to approve these recommendations for both academic and administrative staff.

“The year 2023 promotions were unjustifiably delayed until another call for promotion was made on May 06th, 2024. The affected academic staff have repeatedly written to Professor Robinson, asking him to let them know their fate, without success. This is unfair as it violates every rule in the book, including the UTG Condition of Service. There are Gambian academic staff with terminal degrees and 20 journal publications who are still serving as Assistant Lecturers, when others without journal publications were promoted to Associate and Full Professors. Others (perceived to be friendly or close to the Management) were quickly promoted from the rank of an Assistant Lecturer to Full Professor within a span of four to five years, which also contradicts the Condition of Service. The ‘Publish or Perish (POP) culture’ of UTG has vanished,” he said.

Dr. Gibba stressed that UTG deserves better and noted that several staff members have left due to frustration and lack of motivation. Many Gambian staff on study leave in countries like the US have refused to return due to the anticipated frustration at UTG.

“It has been reported that 15 to 20 per cent of UTG academic staff are foreigners. A substantial number of the Deans of Schools are foreigners. Majority of the UTG Senators are foreigners. Why competent and educated Gambians are being frustrated to leave the university? Are the credentials of those foreign professors authenticated before their appointments? Who is in charge of bringing foreign professors to occupy our tertiary institutions, including USET? Are competent Gambians in and out of the country unavailable? These are some of the questions usually raised by some concerned UTG staff,” he said.

He mentioned that many affected by the delayed promotions are considering legal action against the University Council, the Vice Chancellor, and the institution. They plan to use the Access to Information Act to ensure that improperly conducted promotions are investigated and addressed publicly.

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