Dr Eliasu Mumuni — National Secretary, UTAG
Dr Eliasu Mumuni — National Secretary, UTAG

UTAG kicks against re-submission of Public Universities Bill

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) says it is against the passage of the Public Universities Bill in its current form and, therefore, demands its immediate withdrawal from Parliament. 

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It said the disregard for consultation with the association, coupled with the alarming disregard for the concerns of the university community, demonstrated a lack of respect for the principles of shared governance and academic freedom.

"As stakeholders committed to advancing higher education in Ghana, we urge the government to reconsider its approach and engage in meaningful dialogue with UTAG and other relevant stakeholders, including Technical University Teachers Association of Ghana (TUTAG," a statement signed by the National Secretary of UTAG, Dr Eliasu Mumuni, said.

Collaboration

It said the future of the country's public universities and the quality of higher education depended on collaborative efforts that respected the voices and expertise of all stakeholders.

UTAG, it said, would stand firm in its commitment to safeguard the autonomy and integrity of public universities, and "we will continue to advocate policies that uphold the values of academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and quality education for all."

UTAG, the statement said, wished to express its profound dismay upon learning that the government had re-submitted the rejected PUB to Parliament for consideration in the eighth session.

Concern

With deep concern, "we observe the government's persistence in pushing through this controversial bill despite widespread rejection from the university community and the higher education environment.

We are, particularly dismayed by the lack of consultation or engagement with UTAG, the primary stakeholders and beneficiaries of such legislation."

Introduction

The bill was first introduced in 2020.

Among other things, it would give the government power to appoint the majority of members of the university council, control the finances of the university, and determine the allocation of funds, when passed.

It would also give the President the power to dissolve the university council.

Following the introduction, UTAG kicked against the bill, saying that it was against academic freedom.

After examining the bill, the association submitted a 25-page memorandum for consideration by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education.

This was to ensure that the governance, administration and accountability structures of public universities were appropriately harmonised without tampering with the autonomy and education freedoms of the public universities.

Parliament

Parliament resumed sitting last Tuesday after the Christmas break for the First Meeting of the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament.

A statement from Parliament said during the meeting a total of 82 Bills were expected to be presented to the House.

The bills the house will be considering include the Aged Persons Bill, 2023, Advertising Council Bill, 2023; Consumer Protection Bill, 2023; Public University Bill and the 2023 Ghana Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

The House would also work on 12 other Bills that are presently at the committee level.

They include the Affirmative Action (Gender Equality) Bill, 2023 (Committee on Gender and Children) and the Social Protection Bill, 2023 (Committee on Gender and Children).

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