Professor Kwesi Yankah, Minister of State-in-Charge of Tertiary Education has cleared misconceptions that Public Universities in the country have lost focus. According to Prof. Yankah, though the public Universities have allowed differentiation in programmes, the schools remain predominantly focused.
He stated that a university like the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) remain “predominantly a science and Technology university, in spite of the apparent deviations.” He said the University still dominantly offers between 60 to 70 percent science and technology based programs. “University of Ghana is predominantly a humanities university, in spite of the addition of a science and health related departments, it is still a predominant humanity university.” He added.
Also Read: KNUST elects new SRC President
He said the addition of some courses to the niche courses of the universities is to bring some liveliness into the Universities and that cannot be misconstrued as a shift in focus. “I can imagine how boring the universities would be, if it is only humanities and there are no areas where you can look for interfaces between humanities and the other disciplines. So we always allow that margin of differentiation to allow for non-niche areas that are important. Similarly science related universities also need the humanities,” he said.
Prof. Yankah admitted that some technical universities, which originally should have maintained the mandate of 70 per cent science and technology related and 30 per cent humanities reversed to 28% technology and 68% humanities. He however stated that the new technical Universities have been given the mandate to ensure that at least 70 percent of their programmes are dedicated to the niche area and 30% for the rest.
Prof Yankah made the statement when he moved the motion in Parliament for the second reading of the University of Business and Integrated Development Studies Bill, 2018, that seeks to give legal backing to the conversion of the Wa Campus of the UDS into an autonomous University.
When converted into a full university, the institution is expected to meet the tertiary educational needs of the people in the Upper West Region and beyond.
The view is that proximity to a university in the region would stimulate the pursuit of tertiary education and enhance the human resource capacities in the region.
Prof Yankah called for closer link between the university and its community so that the students can spend months applying themselves to issues that are useful to the people and promised equitable distribution of assets among the three autonomous campuses of the University for Development Studies (UDS).
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, The Minority Leader in Parliament said the establishment of the UDS and its affiliate campuses had changed the economy of the entire Northern Ghana of Wa, Navrongo and Tamale.
He expressed concern over the public universities departing from their core mandate, mission and value, adding that, the universities should redefine their mandate and stay consistent within their requirement.
Mr Iddrisu also called for a national dialogue on the future of higher education in the country, saying “As a country, we have probably not bequeathed to ourselves what we call our immediate manpower needs. What does Ghana need between 2020 and 2030 in terms of our manpower requirement,” he added.
He said “we must compel the universities to produce the manpower the country would require and not what they would produce or deemed as desirable.
There is disconnect, between the people the universities are training and the manpower needs of the country,” adding that, there is the need to train more people in the gas and oil sector.
Mr William Agyapong Quaittoo, Chairman of the Educational Committee in his comments stated that, the new University in Wa should be an outstanding internationally acclaimed applied research and practical-oriented educational institution, dedicated to the development of business and integrated development studies.
He said the objective is to provide higher education, disseminate knowledge related development in business and integrated development studies, and undertake research and nurture relationships with persons outside the institution in accordance with laid down principles.
He stressed the need to employ the use of critical tools that include information and communication technology for teaching, research, dissemination of knowledge and administration.
He urged the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) to ensure that the university abides by its principles in the conduct of teaching and learning, and in the governance off the university.