About five public universities are currently without governing councils, with the majority of them being run by interim boards – the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has said this is having a grievous impact on the strategic direction of affected institutions.
The five are University of Cape Coast, University of Mines and Technology, University of Development Studies, University of Education-Winneba and UniMAC Ghana Institute of Journalism. With the exception of UniMAC Ghana Institute of Journalism, which has an interim council, the tenure of other governing councils has expired – with some dating back as far as last year, UTAG said.
Governing councils determine the educational character and academic direction of a university, approve its mission and aims including the strategic framework, and assess the key indicators of university performance. Above all, the council is the principal executive and policy-making body of a university.
“The continued failure to reconstitute governing councils of many public universities whose tenure of office has expired continues to constrain the smooth-running of public universities in ensuring quality education,” UTAG said in a communique after its annual conference held in the Northern Region.
It lamented that the absence of legitimate governing councils in public universities has implications for academic initiatives, as critical decisions that would enhance the universities’ operations have been put on hold. In a similar vein, staff are overdue pending promotions – especially at the associate professor and full professor levels.
“We also have some other key decisions and approvals that are to be ratified by the council not being done,” UTAG commented when contacted by the B&FT.
Another area of university operations affected by lack of governing councils is the organisation of graduation ceremonies for students who have successfully completed their respective studies, since there are no councils to approve them, UTAG added.
Apart from the above, UTAG said, a number of public universities are run by interim councils, which does not bode well for their long-term growth and sustainability – apart from affecting their day-day operations.
“The majority of the 15 universities have expired tenures of office for their councils, and we really need government to step in to reconstitute them so active execution of activities within the university environment can continue.
“We have a few whose councils are still active or valid, but the majority are really expired and it is our hope that by close of this month, or probably next month, government will as much as possible step up the process of constituting new councils,” added UTAG president Prof. Mamudu Akudugu.
“The leadership of UTAG is therefore calling on government to demonstrate strong political will for proper operationalisation of public tertiary institutions, and ensure that the governing councils of all public universities whose tenure of office have expired are reconstituted immediately to ensure smooth-running of the universities,” a portion of the communique read.
Resource existing universities
In another development, UTAG called on government to concentrate on resourcing the existing universities rather than establishing new ones.
“To improve the quality of tertiary education, government needs to focus on injecting resources to improve conditions at the existing public universities through the expansion of infrastructure rather than establishing new ones,” it said.
UTAG stressed that resourcing existing universities will help in improving the working conditions of university lecturers, recruitment of more Lecturers, research support, and the payment of subventions to enhance quality education in the country.
“We note the non-provision of seed grants for newly establishing universities in recent years, such as the University of Media Arts and Communication (UniMAC), Tedam University of Technology and Applied Sciences (CKT-UTAS), University of Business and Integrated Development Studies (SDD UBIDS), Akenten Appiah-Menka University of Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Development (AAMUSTED) and University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD) among others.
It is important that government focuses on providing seed funding for these universities to thrive, and provide a conducive teaching and learning environment instead of hatching plans to establish new ones again,” it said.
According to UTAG, all the existing public universities are seriously underfunded and suffering from severe infrastructural deficits – coupled with undignified conditions of service for teaching and non-teaching staff of public universities.