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Opinions of Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Columnist: Francis K. Adjei

The UG accommodations ‘wahala’

A bird just whispered to remind me of what Albert Einstein said centuries ago about the fact that “the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything”. I am writing this piece not for personal gains or to victimize someone but to state as a matter of principle, the facts as far as I know them to be.

I attended the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, KNUST, where I did my undergraduate degree programme. In that school, when you are a final year student and you are doing your dissertation or project work (as popularly known in KNUST), the halls of residence, especially the traditional halls like Queens, for instance, would not ask you to pay any extra monies for you to be allowed residence in the halls. I used Queens Hall as an example because that was my hall of affiliation; I am a Royal. Smiling.

I quite remember that during graduations, those of us who decided to lodge in our halls of residence did not have to pay a dime to have access to rooms. It was such a euphoria going back to your hall and given the room that you were given when you were first admitted ( I must quickly add that I do not know how things are now and even if those graduating are asked to pay for their stay, it would be something almost infinitesimal). That was KNUST for you.

I know someone would be asking why the long talk about KNUST and that the name is almost becoming a cliché. I know and I equally agree with you on that but then there is an old Igbo adage that says that a toad does not run in day time for nothing. So if you happen to see one running during the day, there might be two things involved; either it is chasing something or something is chasing it: The University of Ghana, UG, is the premier University, this is an immutable dynamic.
Before I came to this school and especially for those of us who did our undergraduate programmes in ‘Tech’ (how students would usually prefer calling KNUST), always thought that the University of Ghana was strictly speaking, not as ‘academic’ as Tech. I would later come for my postgraduate degree programme to realise that that construction of the university was not exactly correct and that it is an institution of academic excellence. I always say, I would have missed if I hadn’t enrolled in the premier university, the University of Ghana. The University, no doubt is a world class university but just like any institution, there are some pertinent issues that must be addressed dispassionately and one of such issues is the issue of accommodation.

The thing is, a student is given an admission and part of the requirements to be able to graduate is for him/her to also be able to finish a dissertation. At the same time, the student is required to pay another fee in order for him/her to be allowed to stay in the halls of residence. While the student is trying to gather his/her thoughts, in addition to all the frustrations that come with writing of dissertations, the hall is also on his/her neck, threatening him/her of eviction especially if payments are not effected. I personally went to enquire about these payments because coming from Tech, I thought this was not exactly true. We were thereafter asked to go for a letter from our department which would show that indeed we are doing a dissertation, only to be told that the letter was of no effect unless of course, it was to the effect that the department was going to pay for our stay.

I find this not only surprising but also uncomfortable to relate to because I understand the graduate hostels in the University of Cape Coast, UCC, and the KNUST as far as I know, do not require that students pay any extra fees for them to be able to stay for the period of their dissertation writing. Quite frankly, I do not know what is done in the UCCs, for example, that enables those ‘project students’ to stay in their halls of residence that UG is not doing. My argument is that even if the hall would want us to pay some monies during the stay, instead of asking us to pay during our stay, the money could actually be added to our fees. That way, students would be saved from the harassments they go through just to meet an academic requirement.

I would conclude by saying that we are not asking the University of Ghana to also give us the free shuttles as done in Tech, maybe not now. Maybe in the nearest future but our urgent need now is for UG to fine-tune this whole tradition of making students who are writing their dissertation pay for their stay and that even if students would be levied to pay, it should be added to their original fees in such a way that it would not inconvenience anybody. To be fair, I associate myself with the school of thought that says that students who choose to stay on campus during vacations, other than some of the disquisitions raised above, could or should as a matter of principle, be asked to pay but not when s/he is staying in order to meet an academic deadline given by the same university. I rest my case.

Email: francis.kwadjei@gmail.com