Private Universities lament government neglect
Private universities have bemoaned what they describe as government neglect of their operations despite their massive contribution to the county's human resource development.
According to the chairman of the Council for Independent Universities (CIU), Professor Nicholas N.N Nsowah-Nuama, many private universities are overwhelmed by stifling capital, staff, and the administrative and overhead cost of singlehandedly running their institutions.
He said unlike their counterparts in the public sector who receive direct funds from the government, a number of universities are indebted to banks, contractors, and staff as their revenues hardly meet their expenses.
“I asked myself, what about the private universities? Does it mean we don’t feature at all in the framework of the Ministry of education? We don’t matter at all in the running of tertiary in Ghana. Nobody thinks about us, it’s like the private universities in Ghana are orphans. We don’t have any Godfather, we don’t have any mother, and we are just walking around the country” he bemoaned.
Prof. Nsowah-Nuama was speaking to the media on the sideline of a day workshop for private universities on the “Financial Sustainability Plan”.
The event which aims to meet the criteria for a presidential charter was held in Accra on Wednesday, Nov 9, 2022.
“We are not saying they should help us build compounds, we are not saying they should do too much for us, but at least they should also invite us and then tell us what is there for us.
He recalled that private universities were given buses under former President John Kufuor’s administration, but successive governments have neglected the private universities.
Prof. Nsowah-Nuama said the woes of the private universities are further compounded by the widening of cut-off points at the public universities virtually absorbing a greater number of senior high school graduates.
He said the direct competition from government-subverted public universities virtually leaves just a fraction of the students who will want to opt for much more flexible private university admission systems.
“Private universities don’t have the numbers, when you take the public universities they are paid the government, infrastructure is provided by the government, and everything is done by the government. In other words, they should be more financially sustainable than private universities.
Now, the private universities don’t have the numbers, and then the little you get from school fees, you have to pay your lecturers or your staff, and then the percentage of whatever you get out of it also goes to your affiliated institution”. He stated.
He, therefore, called on the government to come to their aid.
Touching on the workshop he said the event is part of a series of workshops to equip its members to attain the presidential charter.
In addition, he said the workshop aims at preparing private universities to be financially sustainable.
Source of income
Prof Kwame Boasiko Omane- Antwi
For his part, a professor of Accounting and Finance of the Chartered Accountancy, Prof Kwame Boasiko Omane- Antwi urged private universities to run their institutions like businesses, thus looking for other sources of income from relying on school fees.
He cited farming, hiring of their facilities, and also attracting grants for projects.
“Are u the type who is over relaying of students, students fees to a certain extent cannot be increased, and therefore if you don’t have a population or the student numbers the among of money you will be able to generate will not be able to cover your operations”
Anne Marie Kyerewaa Acquah
The Executive Secretary of CIU, Anne Marie Kyerewaa Acquah said the vision of the Council is to build a CIU that is inclusive, strong, united, and well-positioned to push the agenda and interest of independent universities.
She, therefore, called on all private universities in the country to join the group in other to achieve a common goal.
The Council was formed on 25th November 2004 at Central University, Mataheko campus Accra.
The vision of the Council is to articulate and promote issues relating to private higher education delivery in Ghana in order to foster world-class standards within the tertiary sector, and to meet the demands of our country’s development.