Gov’t urged to support private universities

Dr Osei K. Darkwa, a member of the Council of Independent Universities and President of GTUC, has said the private universities faced with a lot of challenges and that included inadequate funding, accreditation process, affiliation process, bureaucracy on issues with affiliation, lost of affiliation and dilemmas of mentorship.

Dr Darkwa was speaking at the 9th anniversary celebration of the Council of Independent Universities (CIU), on the theme: “Private Universities as partners in National Development” in Accra, on Friday.

On the inadequate funding, Dr Darkwa said, private universities were confronted with a number of challenges, “establishing a tertiary institution is a capital intensive business that rely heavily on tuition fees and other Internally Generated Revenue from the students to meet their expenditure”.

He said, there were limited subsides from government to support the efforts of private universities due to the general perception that private universities were profit-making entities.

This, he said, accounted for the reason why tuition and other fees in the private universities would keep increasing, unless government came to their rescue and subsidise the tuition fee.

“Government, therefore, has a vital role of ensuring that those private universities are adequately funded so as to guarantee quality output,” he said.

He said, the accreditation process is mostly excessive and costly since programmes are often subjected to long processes of approval by the NAB, before they are taken through a similar approval process by the mentoring institution.

He said, over the years, the process of affiliation, which was originally interned as a service to support new universities has posed problems particularly to private universities and has sometimes become a major hindrance to the speedy introduction of new programmes.

On the issue of bureaucracy he said, programmes are often subjected to long processes of approval by mentoring institutions, before they are taken through a similar approval process by the National Accreditation Board.

“Due to long bureaucratic processes involved in the dual exercise, it may take at least two years for a new programme prepared and developed by a private university college, to be mounted.

On the cost of Affiliation, Dr Darkwa said the process of affiliation over the years becomes increasingly expensive for as long as the university college has not obtained it autonomy.

He said, apart from the affiliation institutions pay whole range of fees including dollarised institutional fees, individual programme subscription fees, and of late an admission fee levied by a mentoring institution; to be paid by affiliated university colleges on behalf of each student per year.

He said CIU considers the above fees originally quoted as 15 dollar per student as arbitrary, exploitative and should be withdrawn; for the possible effective of this is to continue increase in tuition fees by private universities to compensate for the increasing cost of affiliation.

He called for the interest of affordable tertiary education for affiliation and accreditation fees to be review downwards and new arbitrary fees withdrawn

Professor Kwesi Yankah, Chairman of the Council of Independent Universities (CIU) urged the government to initiate a process of gradually phasing out the system of affiliation to public universities.

He further called for the restructuring of the National Accreditation Board, by streamlining its operations to solely maintain standards in universities, as is done in several African countries.

The chairman lamented that for the past 13 years, no private university college had succeeded in obtaining a presidential charter.

He said, the last charter ever granted was as far as 2002, when Valley View University College, attracted the attention of the authorities and was given a charter.

“Affiliation to a public university has been considered worthy of autonomy; clearly signal that all is not well in the process towards the attainment of charter”.

By Daniel Amoo  

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