President of Regent University of Science and Technology, Professor Nicholas Nsowah-Nuamah, has said private tertiary universities were facing threatening challenges in view of the unfair competition from public universities in student enrollment thereby threatening their survival.
“There have been consistent dwindling enrollment numbers for some time now due to the rising numbers of tertiary institutions, fears and unfair competitions from public universities,” he said.
He noted that public universities were building campuses across the country, offering various distance programmes at a fee relatively lower than that of the private ones.
Prof Nsowah-Nuamah, who is also the Vice President of Association of African Universities, made the appeal at the 11th Congregation of the Regent University College in Accra, on Saturday, on the theme: “Sustenance of Private Universities in Ghana: Strategic Options-The Role of Private Universities.”
Additionally, he said public universities absorbed all qualified prospective students as well as admit students with weaker passes in English and Mathematics in the West African Senior Secondary Examinations, which were hitherto reserved for the private universities.
This, he said, had negatively affected their financial situation coupled with high operational and personnel costs, thereby hindering their infrastructural development.
He, therefore, appealed to the government to support private universities and scrap the affiliation system in the tertiary educational level in view of the huge affiliation fees private universities paid to their mentoring institutions.
Prof Nsowah-Nuamah cited an instance whereby a private university college that wanted to run a programme was supposed to pay between $5,000 and $7,000 to the new mentoring institution, which is renewable annually.
Again, the private university had to pay GH?6,000.00 programme accreditation fees and extra GH?3,000.00 fees for certificate to the National Accreditation Board.
Prof Nsowah-Nuamah noted that these financial requirements had overburdened most private universities and, therefore, denied them funding for innovation and expansion of their infrastructure.
Though he commended government’s decision to scrap the 25 per cent corporate tax on tertiary educational institutions, he asked for more subventions from government to survive since they provided employment to many Ghanaians and contributed their quota towards national development.
“One private university owes its mentoring institution almost GH?90,000.00 for just running one programme with very few students. In fact, the sustenance of private universities had become a critical issue for consideration.
“These universities are saddled with loans from commercial banks, which has become a necessary evil in order to keep afloat,” he stressed.
Prof Nsowah-Nuamah therefore, called for investments from corporate entities and individuals as pertaining in other countries so that private tertiary educational institutions could contribute to national development.
In all, 398 students were awarded Bachelor of Science and Arts Degrees, including; four students who graduated with Masters in Science Statistics.
Students who excelled in their various programmes were rewarded with laptop computers and certificates with Miss Dzifa Zareen Seake-Kwawu, a Human Development and Psychology student, adjudged the Overall Best Student.
She received GH?1,000.00, a laptop computer and a certificate for her efforts.
Currently, there are 74 universities in the country and statistics from the National Council for Tertiary Education indicate that private universities constituted 20 per cent of total enrolment at the tertiary level, 45 per cent for the public universities and the remaining 35 per cent enrolled in the polytechnics, nursing and teacher training colleges.