Collaboration is Needed to Ensure Funding of African Universities

A former Vice-Chancellor of UCC, Prof. D. D. Kuupole, has recommended that the public, private partners and universities need to collaborate effectively to ensure a well-funded system for African universities especially, public universities in Ghana.

According to him, it was prudent, to discuss and explore various possible sources of funding for universities because these sources had their advantages and disadvantages relating to quality of education offered at the universities.  He said that would determine whether individuals in society could afford to acquire university education through these funding sources.

Prof. Kuupole was speaking at the maiden Vice Chancellors Ghana (VCG) Conference on Higher Education held at the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER) Conference Hall, University of Ghana, Legon which was on the theme “Funding Public Universities in Africa – the New Paradigm”

Prof. Kuupole said methods of funding education had never been uniform all over the world. “Every country either developed or develops, finances her educational system considering so many factors,” he explained

Prof. Kuupole said that at independence, many countries sought to reform education to accelerate economic and social development and Ghana was no exception.  “Analysts and commentators of Ghana’s development have often compared her to South Korea and Malaysia and spoken of how both countries, having started on the same economic level as Ghana, have achieved faster economic growth whilst Ghana struggles to break through into middle-level income status” he said.

According to him at the time of independence, Ghana had a carefully articulated plan of how education was going to support the efforts to become a prosperous economy. He said After 60 years of independence, Ghana’s higher education system has expanded and made significant strides however, these institutions are at the cross-roads, almost cash-strapped and need a serious bail-out.

In order not to affect quality, Prof. Kuupole said some analyst had proposed multiple sources of funding for universities in Africa. “Apart from public resources and tuition fees from students and their parents, other private resources and university-industry collaboration have been acknowledged as sources of funds for universities” he added.

Prof. Kuupole said funding of higher education institutions, especially the universities, had become very pertinent in the face of increasing student population, rising cost of living, competing needs for governments’ limited resources, among other things. 

In the last decade and a half, he said Ghana had experienced an exponential increase in enrolment in tertiary education as a result of the increasing high demand for post-secondary education among school leavers. “It is noted that this increase in student enrolment has a direct bearing on required funding” he indicated.

In the face of dwindling funding from Central Government, Prof. Kuupole, recommended that Higher institutions of learning must put in place effective marketing strategies to attract greater number of international students from other African Countries and even from the Western Communities.

The former Vice-Chancellor of UCC also said Higher education institutions in Ghana must endeavour to run innovative and market driven academic programmes and partner with the private sector. “Universities must incorporate in their training radical skills development reforms that are required by the private sector” he advised.

Prof. Kuupole noted that: “Alumni are a strategic asset in the mobilization of resources for the running of institutions of higher learning. Universities should therefore give recognition to their most supportive stakeholders and provide a platform for harnessing ideas and mobilizing resources to help develop their institutions”.

Prof. Kuupole further advised universities to undertake Institutional Fundraising activities through alumni fundraising, endowment funds, foundations and other forms of investments.