The Council for Independent Universities (CIU) has called for a review of the current affiliation system of young universities imposed by the National Accreditation Board (NAB).
Professor Osei K. Darkwa, the Chairman of CIU, said he believed that private universities had reached a stage where they needed a radical departure from the current affiliation system.
“The university affiliation system should be a facilitator to foster collaborations and innovations, but it is not the case.
“The number of private tertiary institutions has increased over the years, which has increased the number of mentee institutions assigned to the limited mentor institutions,” he said.
Prof. Darkwa, who is also the President of the Ghana Technology University College, made the call at the 11th Anniversary Celebration of the CIU coupled with the launch of the Union’s Second Education Fair, in Accra.
It was under the theme; “Private Tertiary Institutions Affiliation with Public Universities in Ghana: A Bane or A Blessing”.
An affiliated university or affiliated college is an educational institution that operates independently, but also has a formal collaborative agreement with another, usually larger institution, that may have some level of control or influence over its academic policies, standards or programmes.
Prof. Darkwa said the huge number of mentee institutions assigned were likely to hamper standards and educational quality at the mentor university itself, as majority of the faculty members were likely to spend part of the academic time in monitoring the activities of mentee institutions.
“The rigidity of the current affiliation system is a major hindrance for creativity and imaginative activities.
“There is a need for a new model and transformation of the current affiliation system if we are to achieve educational quality and excellence.
“We call for universities to be made completely autonomous so that they can design their own academic programs, select their students, appoint and promote their lecturers, and determine their own methods of teaching.
“This would help promote academic excellence and provide a long cherished academic freedom to enable them to develop and offer innovative programmes consistent with their mission and vision,” he said.
Prof. Darkwa said that there was the need for dialogue among all educational stakeholders to work towards the implementation of a new system that would regulate the establishment of a new tertiary institution and implement a new road map for the progressive facing out of the affiliation process.
He said as a matter of urgency, a process should be initiated to review the years in existence requirement for existing universities to initiate the charter process.
“Aspects of the charter standards could be applied to private universities so that once these standards are met, a private tertiary institution could be granted the power to issue its degree similar to the public universities established by Act of Parliament,” he said.
Mr Kwame Dattey, the Executive Secretary of NAB, acknowledged the sensitivity of the theme of the celebration, saying it had been a bother to the Council for some time now and expressed the hope that the Union would come up with implementable suggestions.
Touching on curbing the disparity in submissions between the mentor institutions and the National Accreditation panel, he said the panel had written to the mentoring institutions to send an expert in the subject area to contribute to ensuring that the panel’s recommendations were implemented.
“If you are an expert in the field and you think what the accreditation panel says is not what should be done, you have every right not to accept and lodge a complaint to the Accreditation Board to reverse the recommendation,” he said.
He said prospective students should check the NAB website to confirm if their desired schools had been accredited before applying.
Dr Koryoe Anim-Wright, the President of African University College of Communications, said it was time to closely look at the accreditation process holistically with an eye towards phasing out the system of affiliation and streamlining the accreditation process for quality assurance and maintenance of university standards.
She said a proactive way in which the Government could assist private university colleges was by modifying the GET Fund Act to allow access to infrastructure support.