Professor Kwesi Yankah, the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education and former Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, has said the needless competition from mentoring institutions is the reason some private universities are struggling to stand on their feet and become autonomous.
Prof Yankah said the challenges facing private universities were many and included needless competition which had caused enrolment to dwindle and age-old policies bereft of innovation.
He was speaking as the Guest Speaker at the Private Universities Students’ Association of Ghana (PUSAG) handover and induction ceremony held on the theme ‘Academic Freedom: Ensuring the Autonomous and Effective Running of Private Universities’ at the Pentecost University (Penvas) in Accra.
“For now the issue of academic freedom also emerges within the contest of private universities where freedoms appear under siege in the light of various regulations impeding growth and adversely affecting rights to award their own degrees.
“Let me emphasize that even though the regulations and accreditation and the award of charter to award degrees constrain the growth and development of universities, particularly private universities. These regulations only marginally affects academic freedom and do not curtail the rights of universities and students therein.
“These regulations only affect academic universities and students. No issue of academic censorship of any university has so far come to our attention. What has attracted attention is the regulations by way of current policies which constrain the private sector indeed private universities once accredited must ascertain their autonomy in exercising their freedom to award their own degrees.”
“We have fought this battle since our participation in the governance of Ghana with the universities through central university. And over the period that I was chairman, of the council of the independent union and since I have been part of government, the ministry of education has take steps to dismantle the system of accreditation in chartering that has openly oppressed against private universities,” he said.
Apostle Dr Daniel Walker, the Rector of Penvas, described his outfit as the best private Communication institution currently in the country because they were adjudged the Best Communications School and the Over All Best Private Institution in the private institution awards this year.
He said Pentecost University had positioned itself in a manner that it was excelling mainly due to the innovative programs it had been offering, including mentoring their students.
According to him one of the unique features of the university is the reading week where all lectures are blocked to allow the students to read and research extensively at the library.
He added that the school had an entrepreneurial week where students are thrown into the various communities to give back to the society.
Dr Nana Appiah-Agyei, the chairman of the occasion, urged the students to not allow themselves to be used by politicians. He advised them to not use demonstrations either as a means to resolving issues but rather dialogue.
He added that they should acquire knowledge not only from their set books but also other relevant sources and also make sure they are wholly accepted in society.
Oswell Annan, the newly-elected president of PUSAG, in his acceptance speech, said his administration was ready to continue the good works of their predecessors.
He called for continued support as he and his team would go all out and make PUSAG achieve its aims and objectives.