Three private university colleges, incidentally all faith-based, have met the criteria of the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) to be handed a Presidential Charter.
They are the Catholic University College at Fiapre in the Ahafo Region, the Presbyterian University College in Abetifi in the Eastern Region and the Methodist University College at Dansoman in the Greater Accra Region.
The three university colleges got to the charter stage after spending over 10 years each being mentored by public universities to prepare them to be able to stand on their own.
The Director-General of the GTEC, Professor Mohammed Salifu, who disclosed this in an interview, said his outfit had already submitted its recommendations to the Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum.
Explaining what a Presidential Charter was, Prof. Salifu said when an institution was given the status of a university college, “it means it is a university in the making. It intends to be a full-fledged university but for the meantime, is under some kind of tutelage”.
“Such institutions evolve over a period of time until their systems mature so they can do things on their own and deliver quality on a repeated basis,” the director-general explained.
Walking the Daily Graphic through the charter, Prof. Salifu said “the President may, on the advice of the commission (GTEC) given through the minister, grant a charter to a tertiary educational institution to enable the institution to award certificates, diplomas and degrees”.
“A tertiary educational institution that is granted a charter shall be a body corporate, shall continue the activities of the institution in accordance with the terms and conditions under which accreditation is granted and may develop and mount the new academic programmes of the institution subject to review by the commission in accordance with the provisions of the act,” he quoted a section of the act (Act 1023) to support his submission.
Additionally, he explained that such an institution might establish campuses and constituent colleges which should conform to standards prescribed by regulations made under the act, adding that, “The institution may award degrees, including honorary degrees.
“Despite subsection (1), constituent colleges and campuses of a tertiary education institution shall not share premises with incompatible businesses.”
Throwing light on the charter, he explained that “the charter is a stamp of approval and that the university colleges have come of age”.
"It means that they can manage things independently on their own, but are still subject to regulatory requirements, and so before they mount any course, for example, they will have to come for accreditation," Prof. Salifu added.
He, however, said every five years, the GTEC had the mandate to go back to the university for institutional review to be sure that it maintained the standard, adding that if within the next five years, or indeed, anytime after grant of charter, it was detected that standards were being compromised, "we can have the charter revoked".
As per the Education Regulatory Bodies Act, 2020 (Act 1023), the President “may, on the recommendation of the commission given through the minister, revoke, vary or in any other way amend the provisions of a charter where the President considers that the revocation, variation or amendment is in the best interest of tertiary education in the country”.
Touching on accreditation, Prof. Salifu explained that aside from the institutional accreditation, every programme the institution wanted to mount, had to be verified and approved by GTEC before being granted the accreditation.
He said the GTEC had to be sure that the university had the facilities for such a programme, the course content and the individuals who could teach the course.
“So before the university does any course, it has to come for accreditation,” he added.
On the institutional accreditation, Prof. Salifu explained that “institutional accreditation deals with the institution as a whole”.
For instance, he asked, “does it have the systems, structures and the human resources to operate as a university”?