Survival Of Private Universities In Ghana
The President of Presbyterian University College, Ghana (PUCG), Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Adow Obeng believes there is a calculated attempt by the Public Universities in Ghana to cripple the Private Universities and wants the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) to reinstate some of the earlier checks on Public Universities.
Delivering a speech on the theme “Graduate Deployment: the Nexus of Higher Education and the Job Market”, at the 12th Congregation of the University, Rev. Prof. Adow Obeng called on the Government through the NCTE, the Minister of State for Tertiary Education and the National Accreditation Board (NAB) to rationalize and enforce the admission requirements of these universities in relation to students-lecturer ratios.
The President bemoaned the situation where the public Universities, despite the annual subventions from the Government and infrastructural and logistical support from GETFund, admit more fee paying students than before when private universities even struggle to admit adequate students in any given Academic Year.
“The rising appetite of these major public universities to increase enrolment amidst limited infrastructure and faculty members is a great disincentive to private universities who even struggle to admit 1,000 students in any given Academic Year”, he said.
Rev. Prof. Adow Obeng questioned why these public Universities admit more fee paying students than before, offer distance education, operate satellite campuses, run weekend, evening, sandwich programmes, and serve as mentors to Private Universities, describing it as “costly enterprise”.
Arguing his position, Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Adow Obeng explained that Private Universities in Ghana are currently facing serious challenges ranging from inadequate funding, low student enrolment, inadequate infrastructure, inability to recruit and retain highly experienced and qualified faculty and staff, inadequate research output, and logistical support.
The President of PUCG said the survival and growth of Private Universities are under threat as it is difficult to raise enough revenue internally to cover operating budgets – a situation that has forced some Private Universities to lay off staff, cease infrastructural works, delay in payment of salaries, and reduce funding for research activities.
The Way Forward
Stating the position of PUCG, the President said the Private University Enterprise can be strengthened through Collaborations / Partnerships among the Faith Based Private Universities in the area of Staffing, Research and Publications, Joint Academic Programmes and Mentorship. Such collaborations would be a win-win approach for the institutions involved.
He believes also that these collaborations have the potential of reducing cost and promoting mutual benefit to partnering institutions while maintaining quality in educational standards.
Again, Rev. Prof. Adow Obeng argues that Private Universities should create for niche themselves in the delivery of programmes and training. “We should begin to identify the gaps in the academia- industry linkage and capitalize on them. Each private university in the country should be known for a peculiar manner of training of its students, he said.
The KNUST Impasse
The President, Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Adow Obeng blamed the recent standoff at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) largely on “overstretched facilities in public universities” and said “attempts should be made to curb admission figures into them to enable the Private Universities to breathe.”
According to the President student protest in Ghana and elsewhere in the world is not a new phenomenon and that “Students have every right to a peaceful protest on their campuses in response to social, personal and policy injustice.”
“However, in exercising that constitutional right, they need to be mindful of the University’s Rules and Regulations in order not to “fall foul of the law”, he warned.
Rev. Prof. Adow Obeng posited that the situation at KNUST offers lessons in University Leadership and a deeper reflection on the issues facing the tertiary education landscape in the country.
Caution to parties
“For us to defuse these traits of violence in our educational sector, different forms of engagement between University Leaders and Students as well as other identifiable groups are required at different levels”, Rev. Prof. Adow Obeng noted.
“Students should not hide behind ‘social media space’ to incite people and inflame passions in protest against policies. Neither should they allow themselves to be manipulated by politicians, alumni and other bodies to cause mayhem and destructions in order to achieve their own parochial interests”, he cautioned.
“Similarly, University Leaders should not undermine the capabilities of students” he said noting that students want better representation of their views throughout the University’s structures and are willing to engage positively and constructively in that regard.”
“Instead of seeking to suppress or ignore this critical engagement, university management must dialogue, encourage their inputs, apply its rules, and create a culture of catering for student welfare because they are the ‘life blood’ of the University. Without them, the University does not exist” he implored.