Nyankpala (N/R), Oct. 16, GNA - The University for Development Studies (UDS) admitted 1,531 students out of which 1,482 students registered for the 2004/2005 academic year, improving its intake by 39.79 per cent of qualified applicants despite the infrastructure and logistics constrains.
About 386 of those admitted were females, representing 39.15 per cent of the total admission.
The University received a total of 3,603 applicants out which 3,448 qualified to be offered admission with 505 of them being mature applicants. The student population of the University now stands at about 3,840 as against 890 students in 2002.
Addressing the students, the Vice Chancellor, Professor John Kaburise, said the UDS was established in 1992 and mandated to undertake training, research and extension in an integrated and functional way to meet the needs and aspirations of the people of the Northern Ghana and the deprived areas of the country.
He explained that the mandate made the UDS unique among the country's universities and other universities in the West Africa Sub-region as its curricular in the different disciplines were geared towards problem-solving, action-oriented and community-based activities that involved the use of "scientific and indigenous knowledge".
He said the UDS was the sure way to avoid producing intellectually displaced graduates through its community orientation programmes, noting, "our responsibility enjoins us to adapt to the peculiar needs of Northern Ghana, including the development needs and we are set to assist in solving the problems which hinder development".
The Vice-Chancellor assured the students that the quality and content of the degree that they would obtain from the University would make them more marketable.
He said the UDS had not found it easy implementing its mandate and vision and had survived over the ten years of its operations believing in the Chinese proverb that says, "The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying small stones".
Prof. Kaburise reminded the students that the UDS was struggling to meet the challenges of its mission and observed that, "a university must grow from seed and it cannot be transplanted", adding, "the UDS knows where it wants to go but does not have the means to get there at the pace needed."
He said the communities that the UDS had been serving were becoming inpatient about the consequences of infrastructure and human resource capacities inadequacies and the provision of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) facilities on the operations of the university. The Vice Chancellor also mentioned inadequate residential and library facilities as well as agro-industrial opportunities that were hindering the university's ability to expand access to tertiary education for the youth.
He said the university runs a Third Trimester Field Practical Training (TTFT) and Extension Programme, lasting eight weeks in each academic year where students were trained to live and work in rural communities to help find solutions to the deprivations and environmental problems. The programme equipped the students with the relevant skills and expertise with practical fieldwork to prepare them for employment and self-employment. He said.
Prof. Kaburise, however, expressed his unhappiness at the conditions some of the students go through during their stay in the communities.
"Students are left to look for their own accommodation, walk several kilometers daily to their research sites, and sometimes, sleep in market stalls and classrooms, provide their own lanterns, mattresses and mosquito nets and thereby exposing themselves to many dangers as well as putting their lives at risk".
He said most students returned to campuses with frustrations and strange diseases because clean water, food and healthcare were lacking in several rural communities and appealed the government, district and metropolitan assemblies, NGOs and well-to-do individuals to support the programme.
Prof. Kaburise told the students that the Management of the University had been making every effort to secure material support from the central government, local government and other sources to make the TTFT programme sustainable but these had not been successful. He, however, reminded the students that the TTFT programme formed part of the university mission and cautioned students who felt they would not want to take part on the programme not to sign the matriculation register.
"Let all such students pursue their university studies elsewhere at an institution where the TTFT programme is not a compulsory part of the curriculum", he stressed.
Prof. Kaburise announced that the UDS had introduced a pilot scheme on "bridging programme in mathematics and science" for females to increase their number in the science-based disciplines on a yearly basis. The university had also introduced a Masters programme this year where the first batch would be expected to pursue a four-year sandwich programme, spending three months of every year on the campus for a theory building while nine months would be spent on their regular jobs where they would gather the needed data for their thesis.
The Vice-Chancellor announced the UDS secured a grant of four million dollars under the Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund (TALIF) through the Education Sector Programme (EDSEP) funded by the World Bank. He said funds had been approved for the construction of several types of laboratories including a fishpond and a green house in the Faculty of Agriculture while the GETFUND had sponsored the construction of a dual-carriage-way road from the Nyankpala-Tolon road to the university campus.
The GETFUND had also financed the extension of pipe-borne water from Tamale to the Nyankpala Campus that was nearing completion and the construction of a lecture hall block as well as a library complex, he announced.
Prof. Kaburise announced that the UDS would benefit from a Spanish government grant and said several containers of equipment had arrived at the Tema Harbour and that constructional work would soon start for the assembling of the equipment.
Mr Felix O. Akuffo, Registrar of the UDS administered the matriculation oath to the students of the Faculty of Agriculture, School of Medicine and Health Sciences at the Nyankpala campus of the university.