Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Public universities are milking private ones – Prof Yankah

Kwesi Yankah
Private universities have described the affiliation system in the country as a "grand exploitation" scheme designed to rip-off nascent tertiary institutions and make private university education "expensive".

They argue that the affiliation system wherein a private university college understudies a public university until the private university college becomes mature and receives a presidential charter to run its own graduate programmes, has become a major source of revenue for the mentor universities as exorbitant fees are charges for it.

Currently, an admission fee of US$15 per student is levied by a mentoring institution to be paid by an affiliate university college on behalf of each student, which according to the Council of Independent Universities - made up of heads of accredited private universities and universities colleges - makes private university education very expensive in the country as the fees are passed on for students to pay.

Apart from the levies by mentoring, institutions, university colleges pay accreditation fees – which increased from GHȻ2000 to GHȻ6,000 - to the National Accreditation Board (NAB) for accreditation renewals and approval of new programmes.

The private universities explained at a press conference in Accra on Tuesday that they pay the renewal fees of GHȻ4,000 after an payment of GHȻ20,000 institutional accreditation to the NAB.

"Indeed, the entire system of affiliation and mentoring originally meant to support and nurture new fledgling institutions is liable to abuse, particularly if it turns to be a major source of revenue for universities," argued Professor Kwesi Yankah, Chairman of the Council of Independent Universities Ghana.

Presently, there are 68 accredited tertiary institutions in the country operating as public and private universities. Out of this number, only 14 are chartered degree-awarding universities which by law have the powers to confer degrees.

Valley View University, Trinity Theological College and Akrofi-Christaller Memorial Research Institute are the only chartered private tertiary institutions which are eligible to award degrees.

To make more private universities have the capacity to award it own degrees, the Council of Independent Universities has urged government to start the process of gradually phasing out the system of affiliation to public universities, and retool the NAB as well as streamline its operations to solely maintain standards in universities - as is done in several African countries.

"It would be in the interest of affordable tertiary education for affiliation and accreditation fees to be reviewed downward, and the new arbitrary fees by mentor universities withdrawn."

The Council said for the past few months some public universities have said they can no longer take on new programme affiliations because their hands are full, while others have restricted to three any new programmes that university colleges can introduce in a year under its mentorship.

"Where then can private universities seek affiliation for new programmes they intend to mount”, he questioned.

Sometimes private universities in the absence of a local mentor are compelled to abandon new programmes, or seek affiliation from universities outside the country for progarammes that are otherwise tailored to suit local needs, he added.

Funding

The council said GETFUND, which is set up to create special dedicated funding for education should support all Ghanaian students regardless of whether they attend public or private universities.

Professor Yankah argued: “most private university collages meet the funding of staff development from internally generated funds, and as these institutions expand and initiate more degree programmes the cost of graduate training increases.”

“They are therefore unable to invest in staff development to satisfy standards required by the NAB. Basically this is a national problem, and we urge that part of GETFund be used to support faculties pursuing terminal degrees to satisfy NAB standards.”

- Source: BFT