UTAG calls for overhaul of accreditation regime - Kicks against 5 new universities
The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has kicked against the decision by the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) to suspend the accreditation of new academic programmes for public universities in the country.
It has further criticised the intention of the government to establish five new universities, demanding that the funds should be channelled into lecturer welfare and expansion of existing infrastructure, among others.
The association said the GTEC’s decision would not serve the interest of tertiary education as the world was evolving so rapidly that academic programming must continuously evolve to keep pace with that.
The National President of UTAG, Prof. Mamudu A. Akudugu, said: “For a regulator to decide that it will stop accrediting new academic programmes is more or less the case of putting rods in the spokes of success”.
He called for a complete overhaul of the accreditation regime in the country, stressing that it must start with a review or amendment of the Education Regulatory Bodies Act, 2020 (Act 1023).
Prof. Akudugu was addressing the 21st biennial congress of UTAG at the University for Development Studies (UDS) in Tamale last Friday.
The event was on the theme: “Labour Unionism and Socioeconomic Transformation in Ghana: Can UTAG be the pacesetter?”
It brought together UTAG executives from all public universities to discuss the welfare of members of the association and to swear in new members.
GTEC this month announced the suspension of the processing of new accreditation applications for academic programmes from all public universities, including the technical universities, with immediate effect until January 1, 2024.
The suspension, however, does not cover the University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD) at Somanya in the Eastern Region.
According to the commission, the decision is informed by the need to sanitise the accreditation space as a result of the persistent non-compliance with the accreditation requirements of the country by some institutions.
But Prof. Akudugu said it was about time the country moved away from the “rigid public regulatory regime to a more efficient accreditation framework for accreditation of our academic programmes”.
He expressed the UTAG’s commitment to partner GTEC and other stakeholders to initiate and push for the transformative changes that were needed in higher education in the 21st century.
“We demand our employer, government, to, as a matter of urgency, work with us and all other stakeholders to review the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) or in the meantime expand the levels and notches to accommodate our members or take us out of the spine altogether,” he said.
The Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, in a speech read for him by the Director of Tertiary Education at the ministry, Prof. Yayra Dzakadzie, announced plans by the government to establish five new universities across the country.
He said the universities would increase the intake of students in fields that would drive industrialisation in the country.
But in a subsequent communique issued by the association at the end of the congress, UTAG called on the government to channel resources intended for the setting up of five new universities into improving the conditions of lecturers, as well as infrastructure and facilities in the existing universities.
It said the establishment of the new universities should not be an overriding factor, as improving quality in the institutions was more important.
"The government has hinted at establishing five additional universities to augment the existing ones.
Ordinarily, this should be welcome news for UTAG as it expands access to higher education for all Ghanaians.
"However, given that all existing public universities are seriously underfunded and suffering from severe infrastructural deficits, coupled with undignifying conditions of service for public university lecturers, we strongly submit that this should not be a priority for the government," the communique said.
To improve the quality of tertiary education, UTAG emphasised that the government should apply such resources to improve the conditions of the existing public universities through the expansion of infrastructure, improvement in working conditions of university lecturers, recruitment of more lecturers, research support and the payment of subventions, which, it said, the government had reneged on as a responsibility to all the public universities.
The Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Yaw Baah, urged UTAG to support efforts to review the Constitution of Ghana to limit the powers of the executive, ensure good governance, safeguard democracy and return power to citizens.