Reports indicate that some educational institutions, particularly the universities, have banned requests for change of names after students have been admitted.
The University for Development Studies (UDS) is the latest to join the fray, with the reason that the practice arouses great suspicion about the authenticity of results or certificates and gives cause to believe that cases of impersonation may be involved.
The Pro Vice-Chancellor of the UDS, Professor David Millar, who gave the warning, however, explained that female students who married during the period of their studies who wanted to change their names would be considered on their own merit.
We do not begrudge the university authorities for coming up with this directive to the students, but if the reasons assigned above are the rationale for the action, then we dare say that it is unfair.
Every student who gains admission to any tertiary institution in the country is supposed to have gone through basic and secondary education. The least that the universities can do in the event that certificates presented by students raise suspicion is to check with the institutions that awarded those certificates or liaise with the secondary schools applicants attended to authenticate their names and certificates.
Fortunately, in our case, examinations for basic and senior high schools are conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC). There are, however, other examination bodies, locally and abroad, that conduct technical and professional examinations.
The Daily Graphic is aware that in every society there are deviants, for which reason institutions must put in place measures to prevent such characters from cutting corners or cheating the system.
Many Ghanaians and institutions operating here appreciate the cultural and traditional milieu in which we live. There are occasions when some fathers renege on their responsibilities to their charges, only to surface when the children start maturing into adults.
When that happens, processes are gone through, after which the children are given to their biological fathers.
If this happens to a student already in the university, he or she may change his or her name to reflect his or her new ‘status’.
All that we are saying is that any university that is suspicious of the credentials of its students must use the established institutions to unravel any fraud. Also, majority of the people who change their names do so by swearing affidavits, and affidavits, by our understanding, are legal documents.
The Daily Graphic thinks that the universities find the ban on name changing the easiest way to deal with their frustration over fraud, forgetting that by doing so they discriminate against students who may have genuine reasons to change their names.
We are not fighting the battle on behalf of students who intend to cheat; we are only demanding fairness and equity in the enforcement of any regulation, so that no single individual is disadvantaged.
We shall always support moves by communities, institutions and individuals to instill discipline in the youth for them to respect laid down regulations in order to avoid the state of nature.
The Daily Graphic, therefore, appeals to the UDS authorities to look at this policy again and find the most appropriate way of dealing with the use of fake certificates and results slips to gain admission to the university.
This way, we are sure that the student community and the university authorities can come together to instill discipline on the campus.