A former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, (UG) Professor Ivan Addae Mensah has joined the mounting opposition to the draft universities bill describing it as “dangerous and totally unnecessary”.
He said “the bill and its proposals are backward and will take universities back to the 60s”.
“I think this bill is very dangerous and totally unnecessary. The constitution of Ghana seeks to protect tertiary institutions from government interference. If the bill says the President can appoint the Chancellor it means he can disappoint the Chancellor. In all, the President can appoint about 5 council members and that is dangerous.
“The bill has stated that if 5 council members out of the 9 meet to discuss some issues, the decision arrived at can take effect. This means that the 5 appointed by the president can sit and decide to overthrow the VC and that can happen. As a former VC and educationist, I just can’t understand what this whole bill is about. The Universities should be allowed to have their own laws governing them. The State shouldn’t give any legal guidelines. This bill is going to bring about micro-management of the Universities and that may render VC redundant,” Prof. Mensah made these observations yesterday on Starr FM which was monitored by Today.
He claimed the bill will allow government through its councils to have power over who gets admission into public universities in the country.
The first person to publicly oppose the bill was a lecturer at the UG Professor Ransford Gyampo.
Some of the proposals in the Bill grant; the President power to dissolve the university Council; allow the university Council to appoint a Chancellor and allow unions to appoint only one representative on a rotational system to serve on the Council at each cycle.
The minority Members of Parliament (MPs) on their part had described the proposals as worrisome.
According to them, the bill, which is yet to be laid in Parliament has severe consequences as far as academic freedom and the autonomy of universities are concerned.
Speaking journalists, Minority Spokesperson on Education Peter Nortsu asked for more voice like that of Prof. Gyampo against the draft bill
“We expect the University dons to also make their voice clear, once they do that wisdom will bear on us to do the right thing….If they [majority] want the good of this country, universities to excel then I expect the majority to also oppose it when it is finally laid,” Mr. Nortsu said.
Adding his voice to the withdrawal of the bill, President of the Policy think tank, IMANI had called for the immediate withdrawal of the bill, which seeks to harmonize the administration of Public Universities in Ghana and reserve majority slots on the University Council for government appointees.
But the government was unfazed as its spokespersons maintained government had been misunderstood in what is a well-intended initiative to introduce a modernized administration regime for managing universities.
Defending the bill the Spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Vincent Assafuah said, if this bill had been in place, recent happenings on the campuses of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the University of Education Winneba (UEW) would not have happened.
Mr Assafuah intimated that having majority of the University Council’s members emanating from outside of the University was a good corporate governance practice as it serves as check and balance on university administrators.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
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