Feature Article of Monday, 27 June 2011
Columnist: Ibrahim, Faisal
Private universities play a key role in developing the human resources of our country. Let us for a minute imagine where the many graduates from these universities would have been but for these institutions. Private universities arguably offer programs which are relevant and dynamic to the business environment and society. However, fees charged by some private universities are throat-cutting.
I was speaking to a friend over the weekend; he told me he had gain admission into a private university to pursue a Business Administration course. He has been admitted to level 300 because of his prior certificates. Though he expressed joy for getting the admission, the fees remained a burden he will be dealing with. He told me according to his letter he is expected to pay One Thousand, Seven Hundred Ghana Cedis [GHc 1,700.00] or Seventeen Million Cedis [17,000,000.00] for ONLY a semester. A simple addition suggests he is expected to pay Six Thousand, Eight Hundred Ghana Cedis [Ghc 6,800] or Sixty-Eight Million Cedis [68,000,000.00] to complete the 2 year course. A student starting from level 100 is expected to pay Thirteen Thousand, Six Hundred Ghana Cedis [GHc 13,600.00] or One Hundred and Thirty Six Million Cedis [136,000,000.00] for the 4 year program. Indeed, if the manner in which real prices of goods and services are increasing should continue, then these HUGE figures will go up further.
To make matters worse, he told me students offering science related courses are required to pay more than Two Thousand Ghana Cedis [GHc 2,000.00] or Twenty Million Cedis [20,000,000.00] for a semester. How can the average student afford such an amount to get educated?
By the way let us assume my friend is able to raise the money for the course; then he graduates only to meet a hostile job market. The graduate unemployment situation in the country is at a crisis stage. In fact the general unemployment situation in the country is dangerous. Government must provide visible 1.6 million jobs else the situation will worsen.
Back to the main subject, though I do not expect government to issue a directive on fees to be charged by private universities, I believe government can influence this decision in a way. Fees are cost build up incurred by private universities. Government could hold a forum to understand these costs build up; then take part of these costs to ensure the final fees charged are affordable. Just as government is able to give some businesses tax holidays and duty free imports, such concessions could be given to these universities. Students in private universities are tax payers too and deserve some support like their counterparts in public universities.
I challenge civil societies and student bodies to brainstorm on how government could solve this problem. The National Union of Ghana Students was instrumental in the enacting and the implementation of the Ghana Education Trust Fund [GETFund]. Indeed, presently a student representative is on that board. While I commend them for their efforts on issues regarding students in public universities, they hardly speak on problems confronting students in private universities. The Anthony Abotsi led administration of NUGS must show more concern about the plights of students in private universities since they are also part of NUGS.
Another solution the government could adopt will be to establish more universities. While there are some who opt and are willing to pay for private university education because of the programs, flexibility, facilities, reputation etc, there are a substantial number who are forced there because though qualified, inadequate facilities in public universities forced them out. Fees charged by public universities are relatively cheaper. Establishing more public universities will reduce the number of students who are forced to private universities.
I was sad when I read the Deputy Education Minister; Mahama Ayariga says government does not have funding yet for the establishment of the two universities [one in Brong Ahafo and the Volta Region] though the President has cut the sod for its establishment.
Zenith University College