The University of Professional Studies, Accra hosted a two-day International Conference on Higher Education in Africa.
The Conference which was under the auspices of the International Deans’ Course was on the theme “Balancing Quality and Access in Higher Education in Africa”.
In a welcome address at the opening session of the Conference which was held at the University’s main Auditorium, on 4th November, 2013, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joshua Alabi emphasized the importance of academic debates on access and quality of higher education on the continent.
He noted that there is no consensus on what quality should be, adding “quality has various meanings to different people in different contexts. Across the board, the acceptable definition of quality, which I personally associate myself with is the fact that quality is what works for you”. He expressed optimism that participants at the Conference will be able to agree on the best options for ensuring quality and accessible higher education on the continent.
Prof. Alabi also expressed his appreciation to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) for providing financial support for the Conference and appealed to the International Deans’ Course to consider extending the capacity building opportunities to more academics at UPSA.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Education in an introductory remark on behalf of the Minister, Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman took the participants through Ghana’s experiences with access and quality of education from the basic to the higher level.
He noted that although Ghana’s expenditure on education as a percentage of the country’s Gross Domestic Product keeps rising (currently at 8.4%), more than the UNESCO target of 6%, Ghanaian universities do not seem to be featuring in the major international universities’ rankings around the world. He noted that participants should be able to discuss and find out what could be done to help African universities to feature prominently in global higher education rankings.
Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa also disclosed that the government is currently negotiating a $205 million facility from the Chinese Exim Bank to develop and deploy ICT infrastructure towards improving and expanding access to education in the country.
Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa also appealed to the participants made up of Professors, Vice- Chancellors, Deans and Heads of Departments from across Africa to consider adopting some flexibility in admitting more students into technical subject areas such as Medicine, Computer Science, Engineering, et cetera which guarantee immediate employment after graduation. He argued that it would be pointless to focus the discussion about access on the total number of qualified persons gaining admission into higher education institutions if the final outcome is thousands of jobless graduates.
He added that the participants should also consider discussing the possible alternative sources of funding for public universities to wean them off government subvention without compromising on the quality.
On his part, Professor Peter Mayer in a keynote address argued that working towards high access and high quality is currently not a feasible option for most countries around the world. Instead, Prof. Mayer believes that a careful concentration on a few Centres of excellence while at the same time widening access and working on the qualitative dimension and ensuring the right mix of students from different backgrounds would be the most practical option to pursue.
The Conference discussed among others: approaches for defining quality of higher education in Africa; relationships among finance, quality and access in higher education; entry requirements, students’ performance and quality of higher education; massification of African higher education institution; effects of ICT, and new internationalization strategies on quality and access to higher education in Africa.
in a related development, The University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) will today, November 8, 2013 hold its first ever Special Congregation to award honourary Doctorate Degrees to three of Ghana’s most distinguished and illustrious sons, Edward Kobly Doe Adjaho, the Right Honourable Speaker of Parliament; Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene; and Hon. Albert Kan Dapaah, a Chartered Accountant and Politician.
Speaker Adjaho, who would become the latest eminent alumnus of the University is being honoured for his achievements in politics and public service and his contributions to the growth of Ghana’s democracy; while the Otumfuo and Kan Dapaah who are alumni of the University, are being celebrated for their personal achievements and ongoing contributions towards the improvements of the teaching and learning environment in the university.
His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama, would be the Special Guest of Honour and would commission the University’s newly constructed Administration Block, and Lecture Block Complex before the ceremony.
The event is scheduled to take place at the Forecourt of the University at 1:30 PM.