In the late 1970s, the government opened the sluice gate for private participation in tertiary education. Since then, private and some parastatal institutions have established tertiary institutions. For example, the Seventh Day Adventist Church established the Valley View University at Oyibi in 1979, as one of the private universities in Ghana to be granted national accreditation.
The latest parastatal institution to join the fray in the operation of private universities, is the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the country’s largest publicly funded research body.
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The proposed university — the CSIR College of Science and Technology (CCST) — to be equipped with state-of-the art facilities and field research stations, will offer graduate programmes in agriculture and environmental sciences from two campuses to be located in Accra and Kumasi.
The CSIR enclave at Fumesua will serve as the Kumasi campus while the premises of the old Food Research Institute at the Broz Tito Avenue, Switchback Road, Cantonments, will be used as the Accra campus.
The first set of students would start classes by August 2016, and about 200 students are expected to take courses in plant breeding and biotechnology, climate change and integrated natural resources management, fisheries science, aquaculture, food science and technology, and industrial, animal nutrition and feed production.
The rest are soil health environmental resources management and science policy and knowledge management.
The decision by the CSIR to contribute to the nation’s human resource development is borne out of its belief that there is the need for more scientists to facilitate the development of the country.
Although there are science training institutions such as the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), it is the belief of the CSIR that there is a gap between the human resource available and what is needed.
There have also been concerns over the use of research findings and scientific innovations but according to the CSIR, the new university would have a link with industry to change the status quo.
Expatiating on the new university, the Deputy Director-General of the CSIR, Dr RoseEmma Mamaa Entsua-Mensah, said CSIR decided to establish the university since it had the expertise and resources to handle science and technical training in Ghana.
She said CCST, which is affiliated to the University of Cape Coast , had also linked up with some international universities such as the University of Eastern Finland where students would undertake exchange programmes.
“CCST would employ a practical approach. It will connect research, education and industry.
“It has taken five years to put this together by dedicated experts after approval from the CSIR Council. The board of CCST is chaired by Prof. Josephus Anamoa Mensah with members drawn from industry, development consultants, engineers and the academia,” she said.
She allayed the fears of some critics who had expressed the view that the CSIR would abandon its core mandate and that would affect research in Ghana saying, “ that is not true. The establishment of the university would rather enhance research.”
Faculties of the university, Dr Entsua-Mensah said, would be headed by retired scientists with support from some scientists drawn from the CSIR.
“The ultimate aim of CCST is to pursue PHD programmes,” she said.
Increasing scientific capability
For his part, the President of CCST, Dr Joseph Cobinnah, was optimistic the university would increase the scientific capability needed to drive Ghana’s socio-economic development in line with the CSIR’s mandate to expand the platform for science and technological application.
“Our products will be scientists who would solve problems. We need more scientists to take care of the developmental growth of our nation,” he said, and added that the students would undertake entrepreneurial courses to equip them with the skills to set up their own businesses.
The Vice President of CCST, Dr Wisdom Plahar, said, students would be encouraged to set up their businesses instead of looking for jobs. This will take care of the increasing number of graduate unemployment.”
The university, he said, would also help focus students research on generating practical solutions to national socio-economic challenges.
An official at the CCST registry, Mr Justice Wiredu, said the university would later roll out other courses, namely Material Science Construction and Transportation Engineering, Urban Environmental Management, Cropping Systems and Conservation Agriculture, Oil Palm Breeding Physiology and Plantation Management and Oil Palm Plantation Management.