The Catholic University of Ghana (CUG), which was recently given a presidential charter, has begun the establishment of learning centres to bring its academic programmes closer to qualified people at various places in the country.
The university, sited at Fiapre in the Sunyani West Municipality of the Bono Region, operated 19 years as a college before being granted a presidential charter this year.
So far, the CUG has established learning centres at Sampa and Dormaa Akwamu in the Bono Region, Sefwi Wiawso in the Western North Region, as well as Accra and Tamale.
The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Professor Daniel Obeng-Ofori made these known during a post charter press briefing at Fiapre, near Sunyani last Friday.
He explained that the university was using the weekends for the organisation of the learning centres with the combination of both face-to-face and online tutorials.
Prof. Obeng-Ofori said in addition to the establishment of learning centres, modalities were being worked out to make the major seminaries of the Catholic Church in Ghana to become satellite campuses of the CUG.
Touching on strategies to build on its enrolment, he stated that the university would build on its recent modest improvement in admission and ensure that a minimum of 1,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students were admitted annually.
"Our strategy is to develop more graduate programmes and other innovative undergraduate programmes not run by public universities in our catchment areas", he stated.
Prof. Obeng-Ofori said the university had reversed the downward trend in student enrolment since the 2017/2018 academic year.
"The 2021/2022 academic year witnessed about 54.4 per cent increase in student enrolment compared to the 2020/2021 academic year", he stated.
Prof. Obeng-Ofori said even though the university’s enrolment target for the 2021/2022 academic year was 1,257 students, it exceeded the target by 421 with a total enrolment of 1,678.
Public health nursing
The vice-chancellor said as a pioneer institution to produce public health professionals, the university had been granted the permission to run top-up programme in public health nursing for over 3,000 nurses who pursued bachelor degree in Public Health Education at the CUG.
Prof. Obeng-Ofori said the Department of Nursing and Midwifery of the CUG had just commenced three months intensive top-up programmes in BSc Public Health Nursing and BSc Midwifery on sandwich and modular modes.
Dilating on why the government had to support private universities, he explained that even though private universities were relatively young in Ghana, their contribution to tertiary education had been enormous.
He stated that the establishment of private universities came at a critical time when the then three traditional universities were unable to contain the growing need for higher education delivery in the country.
"For the past 25 years, private universities have filled an important gap and helped address what could have been a severe socio-economic-political problem", he said.
According to Prof. Obeng-Ofori, private universities had and were making significant contributions to job creation,human capital development and democratisation of higher education in Ghana.
"Currently, about 25 per cent of students in Ghana attend private universities, which employ over 4,000 staff," he said.
Prof. Obeng-Ofori said there was, therefore, compelling justification for deliberate state support for private tertiary institutions as occurred in other countries.
He,therefore, called on the government to partner private universities to enrol free senior high school graduates rather than expanding public universities.
Prof. Obeng-Ofori also called for consistent extension of scholarships and loans designed specifically for private university students.
He also appealed for support for ICT infrastructure towards online teaching and learning and the donation of equipment for private universities.
Prof. Obeng-Ofori thanked the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo for granting the CUG the charter to become an autonomous and fully-fledged university to award its own certificates.
"We accept the greater responsibility reposed in us as a chartered university and promise to do everything humanly possible to justify the trust you have in the university towards the training of graduates".