What better time can it be to express opinion on the PUB than now since we could have a vice president who was a vice chancellor?

If you are lost, I am talking about the Public Universities Bill (PUB) and the fact that we could have Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang as vice president, who herself should have an interest in the Bill since she was a vice chancellor of University of Cape Coast.

The PUB came with hue and cry from various quarters especially academia and its allied groups. To be honest, the first I heard of the PUB was when Prof. Ernest Aryeetey was hosted on JoyNew’s PM Express, where he painstakingly made a case for the PUB to be shelved.

From then, I followed the debate as the University Teachers’ Association of Ghana (UTAG) led the charge with the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) and the Ghana Studies Association (GSA) lending their voices to its chorus. A number of academic bigwigs including Prof. Raymond Atuguba and Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah have all expressed disdain for the PUB.

And so, I was surprised when I heard of the brawl between the UTAG-UG and UTAG national president, with the former threatening to impeach the latter over concerns of loyalty to the fight against the PUB. For me, this singular act took the wind out of the sails of the resistance against the PUB and this was further exacerbated by the inconsistent, if you like erratic, statements from individual members as well as UTAG and its allied groups.

Going into a battle, you would want a united front or voice but the “allied forces against the PUB” are not too clear in their minds as to whether they want the PUB thrown out totally or portions amended to cure the abnormalities. For instance, in a 14th May memorandum to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education, UTAG national secretariat made a litany of recommendations for amendment which it deems in the concluding paragraph as its contribution to the legislation as a major stakeholder.

However, in an op-ed in response to the memorandum, Prof. Atuguba had these to say; “Given that hundreds of amendments are needed to make the Bill constitutionally wholesome, and considering that the 4th Republican Parliament has a long standing tradition of requesting that Bills and Draft Regulation that contain such shortcomings be withdrawn by the relevant Minister, thoroughly reworked, and re-laid; the position of UTAG must be that Parliament should take this latter course of action, and not proceed further with the Bill.”

Tell you what, I agree that the PUB will do more harm than good but the resistance must find a united voice if any inroads would be made in this fight. And so in advancing my views on the PUB, I believe it would reduce the quality and standard of the universities since they would become fully controlled by the government like other agencies of state.

Universities as semi-autonomous bodies, have the chance to do their own hiring and admissions including managing assets and finances. With government appointees being majority on the university council and the Minister of Education playing ‘big brother’ over the universities, this autonomy would be taken away.

Lecturers might no longer be hired on merit, infrastructure might deteriorate as in the case of most government institutions and government can choose to vary course contents and the number of years spent in school as is happening in SHS.

These are serious issues that can collapse the tertiary education system in the country. It might even go to the core of the recognition of products of these universities internationally. 

More so, we must also recognize, as students, that the PUB can go a long way to undermine the quality of our degrees as the council which would be controlled by government - according to clause 25 (1) - can vary members of faculty and delineate schools, departments, institutions, centers and faculties in consultation with an unwarranted Ghana Tertiary Education Commission. Again, Clause 25 (1) (b) and (c) are particularly dangerous as they empower the council to appoint and promote lecturers who might dispense academic poison to students because they were not employed on merit.

Germane to the reasons this myopic legislation must be abandoned is that, the two main political parties are divided over it. Mr. Mahama, the presidential candidate of the opposition NDC, has vowed to reverse the legislation if it is passed and he wins the elections.

To avoid any merry-go-round situations, the thought of passing the Bill should be perished as it has been proven to be unpopular, if not ineffective. As a matter of prudence, the PUB must be thrown out and forgotten as it adds nothing to the academic administrative system.

The PUB only seeks to make public universities worse of thus, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education must throw it out and say no more! 


Anthony Kangah is a final year student of KNUST and Onetime PRO of the Land Management and Development Students’ Association. He is the current Speaker of Faculty of Built Environment Students’ Society Parliament.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.