The ever-increasing cost of postgraduate education took the shine out of the graduation of 2004 batch of students of the University of Ghana. This has ensured that graduates who want to pursue further studies are discouraged from doing so as they are unable to raise the needed funds for that purpose.
The result has been the abandoning of postgraduate research and studies and the lack of fresh lecturers at the departments of the universities in Ghana. As usual, during this year's graduation, the number of students who graduated with the Bachelor of Arts Degree grossly out-numbered those in the science faculties. 88.31 percent of the 4866 graduands were from the humanities, while the science graduands formed 11.69 percent.
Out of the figure, males still dominated with 64.71 percent as against 35.29 percent of female graduands. That is to say 3149 male in relation to 1717 female graduated in the 2004 batch of university of Ghana students.
As part of faculty renewal strategy, the VC. Prof Asenso Okyere included in his report, the availability of Scholarships for qualified graduate students to pursue various post graduate research studies. Another effort in this direction is the anticipation of Legon Night College whose function will be the provision of full university courses in evenings to qualified students on fee-paying basis.
Unlike the previous congregation, last Saturday's graduation ceremony took quite a different turn with much emphasis placed on the graduands rather than the hitherto speech filled ceremonies. In the past, only the students who earned first class had the opportunity to shake hands with the chancellor of the university. This year however, students who had first class honours right through to those who had second class lower had the chance to file to the dais and have the much desired hand shake with the chancellor, Oyeeman Wireku Ampem II.
Contrary to custom again, the 2005 batch of students will also have the privilege of graduating the same year in which they complete their programme of studies. They will graduate in September 2005. That is, instead of waiting for about 11 months, graduates will now graduate just three months after completion. If the state of the university address given by the vice chancellor, Professor Asenso Okyere is something to go by, then one can say that the nation's premier university is really out to make it big. Though the report had the usual appeal to government and other stakeholders in education to assist the upward lifting of the institution's image, the report gave an impressive overview of measures being put in place to equal the standard of the university to any other one elsewhere.
These include the renaming of the school of administration as the university of Ghana Business house “to reflect global practices and to make it position itself well to face the competition that exists in the training and research in business administration in Ghana and other parts of the world.”
The former faculty of agriculture has also been transformed into a college with the school of Agriculture, institute of agricultural research and the school of family studies under it.
There is also the resetting up of some ten directorates such as the ICT directorate, directorate of academic affairs, finance, health human resource and organizational development among them.
According to the vice chancellor, new academic programmes like diploma in horticulture , bachelor of science degrees and masters of philosophy degrees in Horticulture will take effect from next academic year.
In addition, a programme in entrepreneurship has begun in the second semester of the 2004-2005 academic year for the level one hundred students. This is expected to be compulsory for all undergraduate students.
Asenso–Okyere announced the creation of a new faculty of engineering which admitted its first batch of about 35 students at level hundred this academic year. He said the faculty was working in concert with engineering institutions so students can have internships with those institutions. “A 58-seater bus has been secured for this purpose,” he stated.
“We appeal that government funding should reflect the emphasis needed for science and technology education without which Ghana may not be able to make much progress in development efforts,” the vice chancellor said. “Special incentives should be created for students to opt to study science, agriculture, engineering, and medicine, he recommended, adding “the equipment and chemicals required for these programmes must receive special attention.”
The vice chancellor expressed joy at the university's ability to admit 238 students from less endowed schools, all of whom enjoyed scholarships for the payment of the academic user fee. Student numbers has over the past few years been a problem for universities. The distance education centre at legon, says the VC is set up to target both participants in Ghana and other parts of Africa, using transfer of knowledge through the print and electronic media.