‘University council members not owners of institutions’

BY: Severious Kale Dery
Professor Mensa-Bonsu (right) interacting with Professor Tagoe (middle) and Dr Paul Effah during break time.

A former executive secretary of the Nation Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), Dr Paul Effah, has reminded council members of universities that their roles as council members do not make them owners of such institutions. Rather, they are to help oversee the affairs of their respective institutions.

Dr Effah gave the reminder when he took the council members of Zennith University College and the Methodist University College, both in Accra, through a two-day workshop to equip them with the relevant knowledge and skills to better run their respective institutions.

The workshop, dubbed Senior Academic Leadership Training (SALT) and organised by the NCTE, took the participants through the various types of leadership and the role of the councils in the running of institutions.

Dr Effah, who spoke on the topic: “Effective university governance”, said council members should stay away from the day-to-day management of the institution, adding that, “there must not be a parallel administration.”

Who is a council member?
He said council members were prominent people carefully selected among the lot to provide guidance and direction and periodically check to ensure that those entrusted with the responsibility to manage the institution were doing what they had been mandated to do.

“For example, you have the responsibility to ensure that money is used for the purpose for which the institution is established.

You must ensure that people feel the academic presence and intellectual excitement,” he told the council members.

He said 60 per cent of the money for the institution should be spent on academic ventures because it was an academic institution and “any university that operates anything less than that might be veering off its core mandate.”.

The Director of the Legon Centre for the International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, who spoke on the role of council, said council members had the responsibility to monitor and strengthen the performance of their respective institutions.

Conflict of interest
She advised them to work for the interest of their institutions and not to use their institutions to make profit or to become “admission contractors.”

On conflict of interest, Professor Mensa-Bonsu said there was everything wrong for a council member to bid for contracts for themselves or for their relatives, insisting that it was unethical and must not be encouraged.

She expressed concern about the inability of council members to keep confidential information, saying it was a major problem and divulging confidential information could cause lots of problems.

“Zipping your mouth is very important and your duty is to maintain confidentiality,” she told the participants and further advised them to be open and transparent in whatever they did as a council.

Welcoming the participants, the Chairman of the NCTE, Professor Tagoe, was hopeful that the participants would effectively contribute to the success of the programme.