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Stop business of renaming public Universities – UHAS to Gov’t

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The University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), Ho wants the government to halt the process of renaming public universities in the country.

According to Dr C.S Kpeglo, Registrar of UHAS, Universities worldwide including those in Ghana can determine for themselves what their contribution to societal development should be through consultative processes with key stakeholders including Government.

“Even though the current bill indicates ‘academic freedom’; it takes away from the Universities every facet of academic freedom. The definition of academic freedom provided in the Bill is too narrow as it focuses on the freedom of speech of lecturers. We are concerned that the bill suggests that the Minister of Education can issue policy directives to the University. This, in our view will be in conflict with the role of the University Council,” he said in comments to the Minister of Education Mathew Opoku Prempeh on the Bill.

“It cannot be the responsibility of the Minister of Education to determine that, issuing directives to public universities. Our past and recent history suggest that this can be abused by some Ministers. In our opinion, University Councils should be empowered to do their work,” he stated.

Dr Kpeglo further noted the basic premise of a harmonised Public Universities Act is wrong as it seeks to make all public universities ‘look the same’ arguing the progress of universities worldwide is largely reflected in how different they can be from other universities or other institutions of higher education.

“Differentiation is generally seen as a major characteristic of university development. Societal progress is driven by academics and their institutions competing to generate new knowledge, and it is that competition which leads to differentiation and discovery. The Act setting up a university is expected to help define its character. As a consequence, universities cannot be treated with a “one size fits all” approach. This Public Universities Bill is designed to curb differentiation by taking away all incentives that promote competition and differentiation,” he stated.

In conclusion, “we do not think that under our present circumstances, having a unified Public Universities ACT will anyway inure to the benefit of public universities, especially the recently established ones which are struggling with inadequate infrastructure, staffing deficiencies, and equipment. In sum, the Bill takes away any incentive for Ghanaian public universities to seek to be innovative and progressive. It would eventually stifle initiative and politicise universities under the full control of the Minister of Education,” announced Dr Kpeglo

Four public universities in the country will be renamed after the newly drafted Public University Bill is adopted and passed by Parliament without any amendments.

The selected institutions include the University of Development Studies, the University of Professional Studies Accra, the University of Health and Allied Sciences, as well as the University of the Energy and Natural Resources.

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