University of Ghana admits 11,057 fresh students
Accra, Oct. 2, GNA - The University of Ghana, Legon, offered admission to 11,057 fresh students for the 2004 - 2005 academic year out of a total 18,128 applicants. However, only 8,044 students have so far registered, Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, Vice-Chancellor of the University, announced this at the matriculation ceremony of fresh students at the Legon Campus. Last year 10,301 students were offered admission and 7,959 registered. He said female enrolment increased from 38 per cent in 2003 to 41 per cent in 2004, while the number of graduate students also rose from 546 in 2003 to 625 in 2004.
Prof Asenso-Okyere said the University admitted 401 students from less endowed schools, adding that the admission of this category of students would increase in the future. The University had also decided to waive the academic facility user fee for these students. He said: "The plain truth is that there are many applicants, who by virtue of the schools they attended would never experience university education if affirmative action is not applied to assist them. This is the motivation for our policy on admission for less endowed schools."
Prof Asenso-Okyere explained that the University used the list of less endowed schools prepared by the Ghana Education Service. He said the University needed to put emphasis on graduate studies to be able to train the Lecturers required by the University itself and the increasing number of private universities. He said the University hoped to expand it graduate programme by introducing innovations that would make them more responsive and relevant to market trends. He said there were plans to give University scholarships to good students at the Bachelors Level to pursue graduate studies and join the Faculty later as part of lecturer renewal strategy and appealed to institutions to provide scholarships for graduate studies to reduce the burden of graduate education.
He said the University was pursuing a multi-cultural enrolment policy and this recorded an increase in enrolment from nationalities in the West Africa Sub-Region for degree programmes and North American and European students for exchange programmes. He said the new variety of programmes and times of enrolment had been introduced, citing an example of the Department of Linguistic, which had started a new graduate programme of teaching of English as a second language, adding, that it was a sandwich programme offered only during long vacations.
The Vice Chancellor said the University had enrolled the first batch of 25 students to the newly established Faculty of Engineering Sciences, which currently offered five specialities - Agriculture Engineering; Biomedical Engineering; Computer Engineering; Food Process Engineering and Materials Sciences Engineering. He said the new programme, which was practical oriented, combined lectures with field attachments so that students could apply theory to problems and issues required to improve human livelihood.
Prof Asenso-Okyere said the Accra City Campus, which catered for the working population had also admitted 350 applicants to its level 100 programmes in the Humanities. On funding, Prof Asenso-Okyere said the Government through the Scholarship Secretariat was providing scholarships for 2,000 students at the University this year.
"Funding is the most difficult challenge facing university education today; with the phenomenal increase in student enrolment, managing the University with inadequate resources has become a nightmare. "During 1994/95 academic year, there were 4,917 students at the University, five years later enrolment was 10,788 and last academic year enrolment rose to 23,602, thus, in a matter of nine years, University of Ghana grew from under 5,000 students to almost 24,000 students, an increase of 380 per cent," he said. He said with dwindling resources from the Government in real terms, the University was compelled to ask the direct beneficiaries to pay, adding: "It is in the interest of students to pay the right fees so that they can get the higher quality education they need". The University has established an office of Student Financial Aid so that students, who needed financial assistance, could apply for consideration. He said out of 2,000 applications forms picked up by students only 23 had been returned duly completed.
Prof Asenso-Okyere said many organisations and some district assemblies had established scholarship schemes at the University with the latest being FINATRADE Foundation, which had given 10 scholarships to students in Agriculture for four years and hopes to select five more students each year. He said the Foundation had set up similar schemes at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi; University of Cape Coast and University for Development Studies.
The Vice-Chancellor said the University had resolved to prepare graduates well for the job market and had, therefore, taken certain initiatives which included the introduction of a compulsory course in Entrepreneurship Development as part of the curriculum of the Bachelors Degree Programmes and every student enrolled in the undergraduate degree programme would be required to pass an examination in the course as a condition for obtaining a Bachelor's Degree of the University. Prof Asenso-Okyere said many of the University students had never had the opportunity of touching a computer keyboard and it was the aim of the University to make every student computer literate, therefore provision had been made for the acquisition of computer knowledge as part of the training for all students enrolled He said the Balm Library and its affiliated Libraries of Law, Agriculture, Population and Social Science, Business and Medicine were being digitalised and interconnected to facilitate E-learning in consonance with development in other parts of the world.
He said the University had successfully negotiated with the Metro Mass Transit Limited to convey students to and from the Campus on designated routes at affordable fares and as the number of busses increased arrangement would be made for more of the buses to be allocated to serve the University Community.
On physical infrastructure the Vice-Chancellor said a new building had been constructed to extend the Departments of Political Science and Psychology, while the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) and Ghana Commercial Bank were funding two lecture blocks that would be ready for use next academic year. He said two-thirds of students enrolled were non-resident and the University was making efforts to resolve the problem, adding, that Ghana Hostels Limited would soon start the construction of the second phase of its hostel project to accommodate 3,000 students and the Jubilee Hall Project being undertaken by the University in conjunction with Alumni Association and National Trust Holding Company (NTHC) would also start soon.
He said due to accommodation shortage some students pay 600,000 to the traditional hall of residence for accommodation and turn round to sell it to fellow students for three to five million cedis and warned that students, who indulged in this practice, would be dismissed when caught. He said the construction of the second phase of the Graduate Students' Hostels was scheduled for completion in six month's time to ease the frustrations.
Prof Asenso-Okyere advised students to be respectful to authority and stay focussed on their studies; saying: "Have fun within the limits of the law; devote some time to your spiritual development and do not be extravagant and those of you with spare resources could share with the less privileged." He said some students from Commonwealth Hall vandalised a Senior Tutor's car while going to the matriculation grounds and for that matter fresh students from that Hall would not be allowed to take part in the exercise unless they rendered an apology.
Dr Ishmael E. Yamson, Chairman of University Council, said the Council would continue to be sensitive to the plight of the less fortunate in society by taking measures to mitigate the impact of any increases in the Academic User Fees but stressed that no good thing in life was free.
Miss Georgette Partington, a Fresh Student, BA, Level 100, on behalf of the students said registration process at the University was a nightmare and appealed to the University Authorities to improve the process and the attitude of some of the officials, which she said was quite frustrating. She said lecture halls had become finishing lines where students raced against each other to secure comfortable seats. "Some students after realising that all the seats are occupied are left with no option but to stand throughout the lecture while others stand outside," she observed.
Miss Partington said some students without accommodation had to keep their suitcases at the Porters' Lodges of the halls they had been attached to and spent the night elsewhere. She appealed to the Authorities to improve sanitation in the halls of residence as students also did their part to keep them clean.