SDG Graduate School Organises Roundtable Discussion on Higher Education

A former Pro- Vice- Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Prof. Kwabena Yankson, has said inadequate funding from central government to Higher Education Institutions(HEIs) has progressively engendered cost-sharing between students and the institutions.

According to him, if the funding gap continues to widen, the stress on the students and the institutions could exceed sustainable limit, compromise quality and thereby negatively affect the functioning of the institutions.

Prof. Yankson said these while enumerating challenges facing Higher Education Institutions at a roundtable discussion on Higher Education: Traditions, Challenges - Perspectives from Ghana" held at the University of Cape Coast.

Furthermore, he noted that facilities and resources for research were woefully inadequate in many of the Higher Education Institutions in Ghana. A situation, Prof. Yankson described, as a major source of frustration and worry for many academic staff, especially those whose disciplines require substantial equipment and financial outlay to undertake quality research.

Prof. Yankson also pointed out enrollment in vacuum as a challenge to Higher Educational institutions, saying " it has for a long time been a national norm that enrollment into HEIs in Ghana should be 60% to 40 % ratio for Science-based programs to Humanities”. Prof. Yankson noted that mechanisms should be put in place to ensure compliance with the 60% to 40 % sciences to humanities national admissions norm to produce the critical mass of scientists and technologists necessary to support rapid socio economic development.

Prof. Yankson further recommended that a Higher Education Commission that would combine the functions of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) and National Accreditation Board (NAB) should be set up. He said the two bodies should under one umbrella as is in the of many progressive countries. A

According to him, the appropriate Body or Agency should be charged to periodically undertake a comprehensive human resource needs assessment of the nation to guide enrollment into the HEIs to facilitate rapid socio economic development.

He noted that government should actualise its industrialization agenda for universities to exploit a healthy university-industry relationship to reduce the financial burden on both students and staff to promote quality higher education.

HEIs, as a matter of urgency, should be effectively quantify teaching, extension and sourcing for funds and make them count in the promotion of academic staff, he added. That, he believed, would enhance enthusiasm and create healthy academic environment.

For his part, another panel member, Dr. Kiehne, spoke about the HEIs in Germany. According to him, Higher Education said in the Germany tradition, higher education was not only a means to generate graduates for the job market however, it served as a source of innovation stressing that “generating knowledge is its main goal”.

He indicated that Germany has a total of 399 Universities which had been classified as Research and Applied Sciences. The research universities focus on research whilst the applied universities are more practically oriented, he noted.

Dr.  Kiehne said Germany had a student population of 2. 8 million with about 13 percent being foreigners. He indicated that most of the foreign students were from India, Russia and China. “We don’t have a lot of students from Africa because of the language barrier or possibly we do not have a lot of links with African countries,” he explained.

He said teaching and research should be an entity, whilst students and professors create a community of practice.

On the challenges confronting Higher Education in Germany, he said Germany was losing its identity because the country had been dominated by foreigners.  “To shape a national identity that includes all, newcomers and natives is a challenge that has to be addressed by higher education and the society as a whole”, he added.

The function was chaired by Prof. Rosemond Boohene, the Dean of the Center for International Education.

The lecture formed part of the interdisciplinary Graduate School ‘Performing Sustainability. Cultures and Development in West Africa’ which is a collaborative training network for graduate students by the University of Hildesheim (Germany), the University of Maiduguri (Nigeria) and the University of Cape Coast (Ghana).

The initiative focuses on innovative research that brings together approaches from performance, arts and culture to bear on sustainable development as defined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A specific focus lies on issues of peace and conflict resolution through culture and performance.