Prof. Yayra Dzakadzie (2nd from left), Deputy Director-General, Ghana Tertiary Education Commission, making a contribution at the discussions. With him are Prof. Christine Adu-Yeboah (2nd from right) of the University of Cape Coasts, and Prof. Lydia Aziato (left), Vice-Chancellor, University of Health and Allied Sciences
Prof. Yayra Dzakadzie (2nd from left), Deputy Director-General, Ghana Tertiary Education Commission, making a contribution at the discussions. With him are Prof. Christine Adu-Yeboah (2nd from right) of the University of Cape Coasts, and Prof. Lydia Aziato (left), Vice-Chancellor, University of Health and Allied Sciences
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Universities producing more idle hands — Scholars

Scholars have identified rapid expansion of universities and growth of intake, unplanned and inadequate investment in infrastructure, ageing faculty and inadequate staff development as having a direct effect on the quality of graduates and their access to the job market.

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They agreed that there had been too much emphasis on theories or humanities without any hands-on skill, placing graduates at a disadvantage in the job market.

Prof. Christine Adu-Yeboah of the University of Cape Coast, a former Executive Secretary of the National Council on Tertiary Education and Dr Paul Effah and Dr Ibrahim Oanda of the

MasterCard Foundation, reckoned that the current educational system was gradually churning out "graduates with idle hands," and, therefore, advocated an emphasis on technical education, innovations and critical thinking.

Also contributing to the discussion were the Deputy Director-General of Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC), Prof. Yayra Dzakadzie, and the Vice-Chancellor of University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Prof. Lydia Aziato.

Review

They were reviewing and contributing to a research paper by Prof. Christine Adu-Yeboah, Dr Adam Yunus of Baraka Policy Institute and Dr Sarpong Lydia Aframea Dankyi.

The research was on Expanding Public Universities — Effect on Access, Quality and Sustainability.

Objective

The research looked at the expansion of university education in the public sphere over the last three decades and its contribution to the nationally aspired goal of achieving equitable and sustainable access to quality higher education for all.

Its objectives were to explore the implications of the expansion on equitable access, affordability, quality and sustainability, as well as examine the drivers and actors underpinning the expansion, and the extent to which stated objectives were achieved.

It concluded that public university education in Ghana had seen much expansion in the last three decades.

Again, there is a significant increase in student enrolment, and a considerable spatial balance because of the locations of new universities which were spread across the 10 old administrative regions of the country.

From five public universities in 1993, the figure rose to 25 in 2022.

The programme was held under the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences' project of Motivating Higher Education Reforms in Ghana-- Towards Equity and Sustainability.

It is the fifth of its targeted seven such dialogues being held by the academy.

Programme

The discussants said much as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education was the way to go, its cost had to be reviewed because it was becoming too expensive.

They said some of the programmes being run at the universities were being overly subscribed and crowded, while other universities were struggling to have students.

On the number of universities that Ghana should have, the panellists expressed various opinions, some shooting down the "one region one university policy".

Prof. Dzakadzie, for his part, suggested that the number of universities Ghana could have should be driven by the country’s needs.

Prof. Aziato was not specific on the number but insisted that more universities were springing up yet there was very little to choose in-between.

The argument was that some of these universities were gradually shifting from their core mandates to "omnibus" ones running all kinds of programmes just to survive.

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On access, some believe that the country need not create more universities to expand access.

Two former Vice-Chancellors of the University of Ghana, Legon: Professors, George Akilagpa Sawyerr and Ernest Aryeetey, called for a re-examination of the establishment of a university and what it sought to do else, the programme could end without proffering any solution.

Prof. Aryeetey, for instance, argued that most of the educational reforms were done without consultation, and the establishment of universities had become more political than policy driver.

Fees

Prof. Dzakadzie announced that Parliament had approved a 50 per cent fee adjustment in all public universities; however, it had given room for the various vice-chancellors to create an avenue to offer scholarships for brilliant needy students.

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But Prof. Adu-Yeboah said such an announcement required more engagement because eventually any increment would be handed down to students, which arguably would worsen the seemingly already precarious situation.

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