About 145,000 senior high school (SHS) graduates will be seeking admission into tertiary schools in 2020, the Ministry of Education has estimated.
The figure, which will be an increase of 55,000 over the current admission of 90,000 into tertiary institutions, constitutes the first batch of the Free SHS products.
The Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, made this known in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra.
“We will normally expect about 90,000 students going to tertiary institutions every year. It is now going to be 145,000,” he told the Daily Graphic, describing it as a “huge number and unprecedented.”
Prof. Yankah hinted that the ministry had started holding discussions with both public and private universities “to start strategising towards 2020 when there is going to be an avalanche”.
He said the ministry was encouraging tertiary institutions to vigorously embark on infrastructural expansion to meet the expected “avalanche”.
Prof. Yankah described his discussions with the vice-chancellors and representatives of the private university colleges as successful and encouraging.
He said he also met with the various councils of the technical universities and explained the issue to them and urged their respective universities to rise to the occasion.
Prof. Yankah expressed happiness that after a series of meetings with the vice-chancellors and the representatives of the private university colleges, they had started planning towards the expected increase in students numbers.
“An example is what we have at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), where they are building new structures for the School of Medical Sciences,” he said, adding that huge buildings were sprawling in the university in anticipation of that.
Prof. Yankah indicated that the same could be said about the Business School at the University of Ghana and others, and added that the KNUST informed him that it could admit possibly 20,000 students.
Need for quality
“For me, it is not just numbers, but the capacity to ensure quality, to ensure that the standard lecturer-student ratio as prescribed by the National Accreditation Board (NAB) is certified.
“Otherwise, you are just going to have a very low quality level of education,” he explained, adding that it should, therefore, not just be the issue of quantity, but ensuring that the quality of students coming out of the universities was high.
Referring to the technical universities, Prof. Yankah urged them to ensure that they maintained their focus of 60-40 ratio of science and humanities respectively.
He said the ministry was even looking at raising the ratio to 70-30 in favour of science, explaining that that was crucial to ensure that they did not fall into the same temptations of drifting from the sciences towards the humanities as was the case with the polytechnics.
Prof. Yankah was excited that the Central University was trying to start a new campus in Accra and hoping to expand its intake in the sciences such as Physician Assistantship, Pharmacists and nursing training.
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He said the challenge was that the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which was the professional body, had put a sealing on admission.