Weaning public universities off government payroll can affect education quality – stakeholders

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Some academics in the country are against the weaning off of public universities from the government payroll.

The educators asserted that the institutions managing their own finances could have ripple effects on the educational system.

According to a former Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Professor Ebo Bondzi-Simpson, a clear road map is required to ensure that the system does not collapse when such a policy is implemented.

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“Unless a road map is settled on, no one on is ready. It is not enough that the concept may be attractive to one or both parties,” he said, noting that the challenges would be in the details of implementation.

Prof. Bondzi-Simpson spoke at an experts’ forum on the theme “Weaning public universities from government payroll: Implications for tertiary education landscapes”.

The forum was organised by the University of Cape Coast (UCC) branch of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) as part of activities to commemorate the university’s 60th anniversary.

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He indicated that the road map should include clear provisions for bursaries and scholarships for students who may suffer from the policy, among other projects and funds managed by the schools.

The former Rector was also concerned about the political control of the universities advising that the parameters be clearly defined in the policy.

Weighing in on the discussion, a former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the UCC, Prof George K.T. Oduro, opined that the universities were likely to charge “realistic” fees which would negatively impact vulnerable students.

He added that the situation will further affect employment, work and educational quality of the public education institutions since the authorities would be more inclined to profiteer than to teach and research.

“Don’t wean universities from government payroll. The government must recognise public university education as a public good and prioritise its budgetary support, no matter what,” he said.

The Director of the Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (IEPA), Dr Michael Boakye-Yiadom, calling for innovative ways to bridge the funding gap of public universities, suggested that the schools source funds from alumni contributions and corporate institutions.

But the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori Atta observed that human resource development should be prioritised in the policy reformation processes for the growth and development of the country.

To him, there should be a good balance between the cost and benefits that would be generated from the policy to allow for the public schools to be weaned off the government payroll.

He however called for a review of revenue and expenditure performance of all public tertiary institutions to ascertain the viability of the policy before its implementation.

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