The Student Representative Council of the University of Ghana has called on government to expedite actions aimed at resolving some debt challenges faced by the university.
The university is indebted to the tune of about GHc 520 million after its failure to honour repayment agreements of a GHc 43 million loan facility contracted from a consortium of six banks.
The loan which was used to construct four residential facilities is due for payment by the end of this month.
Government’s intervention has become necessary after the protest by some students resisting a proposed decision to privatize the residential facilities as part of efforts to repay the loan.
Government through the Ministry of Education has promised to meet the banks involved to arrive at suitable repayment conditions for the university.
But in an interview with Citi News, President of the University of Ghana SRC, Sylvester Amoako Quarshie, said they expect government to come up with specific remedies in the coming week.
“We want to say that government has expressed good faith and we are grateful but we want to see more definite actions within the early hours of next week. We are keeping our fingers crossed, work hand in hand with the council and the government,” he said.
Earlier this month, students of the University of Ghana gave management of the university as well as government a one-week ultimatum to completely halt planned privatization of some four halls of residence in the school.
The privatization meant that students would have to pay more to occupy such halls.
We’ve not yet decided on privatizing UG halls – Dean of Students
The Dean of Students Affairs at the University, Prof. Godfred Bokpin had earlier indicated that no decision has been reached yet on privatizing some four halls of residence at the school, hence students should remain for calm.
“The truth of the matter is that, the University does not have the balance sheet to absorb that debt. So the loan that was Ghc43 million has now grown to 528 million due to the judgment that was given. The University has been having discussions with the consortium of banks led by CAL Bank to see how to restructure it.”
“This why the students have picked the signal that these hostels may be privatized. For us, it was an option that came up but a firm decision hasn’t been taken to privatize those hostels. In the last couple of months that I engaged the students, they were very reasonable so I want to believe that we will all sit down and discuss and then find a compromised position to help the growing concern of the University and give comfort to the banks,” he added.
The UGEL halls
With less than 40 percent of the entire student’s body residing on campus due to limited space, these halls of residence were constructed in 2010 to ease the accommodation deficit.
They were initially expected to be pegged at a commercial price, a decision the students vehemently opposed.
The then President, the Late Prof. John Atta Mills intervened to offset the loan on behalf of management, a promise that has not been fulfilled till date.
While the management continues to address accommodation challenges on campus, the privatization of these halls may come as a big blow to students.
The 43 million Ghana cedis loan facility government contracted from a consortium of six banks and released in three tranches has now accumulated due to interests and other charges which have accrued over the last 10 years.