Postgraduate Education is a Panacea for Development-Prof. Adow Obeng

The President of the Presbyterian University College (PUC), Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Adow Obeng, has noted that any nation that is unable to develop the skills and knowledge of its people through education, especially postgraduate education and utilise them effectively will continue to remain an underdeveloped country. Rev. Prof. Adow Obeng was delivering a public lecture on the theme “Making Post Graduate Education Relevant to Students and Society”, which was organised by the University of Cape Coast (UCC) Graduate Students Association (GRASAG). The lecture discussed some concerns of postgraduate education in the country. It came to light that due to the expensive nature of postgraduate studies and the fact that governments were unable to adequately fund these studies, African countries such as Ghana have been pushed to run postgraduate programmes as income generating ventures. “Currently, in Ghana almost all postgraduate programmes in the public and private universities are fee paying and are run mostly on sandwich and weekend basis to meet the needs of the working class who are paying”. Prof. Obeng, who is also a former Vice-Chancellor of UCC, expressed worry that such high fees and other expenditures deprived qualified, brilliant, creative, but poor students from participation. He indicated that besides, the massive expansion in the number of postgraduate programmes as well as student numbers has adversely affected the quality of products. “The programmes are mostly by course work and have no serious empirical or professional research components and has therefore created in the minds of Ghanaians that the universities are producing persons with postgraduate certificates, most of whom lack critical skills they should have acquired during the process of acquiring postgraduate education”. Prof. Obeng revealed that due to inadequate funding, and rising cost of postgraduate education, most students on empirical research select “manageable topics” in terms of cost and such researches hardly lead to any breakthrough. Rev. Obeng said the kind of research Ghana needed at the postgraduate level was applied and collaborative research adding, students would therefore require proper guidance by faculty to go through this route. He called for team of experts drawn across faculties to collaborate to teach research methodology to enable students gain the skills of writing standard proposal by the end of the course. The President of PUC said the quality of postgraduate supervision affects the quality of research work and, as a result, the relevance of postgraduate studies. He deplored the practice where postgraduate students were allocated supervisors who may not have adequate disciplinary background and may not be well grounded in the research area of focus, and methodologies for appropriate data collection, and offer advice to students. To help resolve this problem, the speaker called for regular training or seminars to expose supervisors and graduate students to their responsibilities in the research process and what graduate supervision was all about. He recommended that policies and guidelines of universities on postgraduate research should be reviewed from time to time and enforced, and erring supervisors should be counseled. He said a university cannot have high research output when it is primarily a teaching university with high undergraduate numbers. To this end, he called for a conscious effort to be made to create a postgraduate ambience in the university through reduction in undergraduate numbers and commensurate increase in postgraduate enrollment. He urged government to increase investment in postgraduate education and make national security, health and education a priority. An amount of 100,000 cedis was disbursed to 27 postgraduate students to help fund their research work. The amount was taken from the Samuel and Emelia Brew Butler-GRASAG Research Fund which is being supported by Nana Sam Brew Butler, the immediate former Chairman of UCC Council in memory of his late wife. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Prof. G. K. T. Oduro chaired the function.