Ghana saw the emergence of private higher education in the early 1990s. Since then, there has been an exponential increase in the number of private universities in Ghana.

Apart from the exponential growth, which is encouraging, the private higher education sector has had its fair share of widespread concerns about the compromise of quality and standards at some of the private universities.

It is no doubt that the increase in the number of private universities in Ghana has further increased access to higher education, which is one of the tenets of education.

However, it appears that access has been achieved at the expense of quality and relevance of the educational provision.

Private universities have come to stay and are contributing to providing the human resources needed by Ghana’s labour market. It is therefore imperative that the sector is supported to perform this important function.

An internationally tested approach for supporting social sectors to strengthen their quality of output and improve standards is benchmarking.

Benchmarking is a widely used tool to collate comprehensive data on agreed performance indicators which is accessible to universities.

The tool takes stock of how well universities are performing in satisfying their teaching and research obligations.

When universities have access to such a data about their peers or competitors, they can compare and take management decisions to improve their quality systems.

In a research carried out on the quality assurance mechanisms in some private universities in Ghana, it became apparent that data collection and benchmarking were not robust in the private higher education sector.

The outcome of the research supports a 2016 World Bank report which concluded that most African universities do not have the mechanisms that would enable them to benchmark their performance with their peers.

With about 42 private universities in Ghana in 2012, currently, there are over 80 private universities in Ghana and as such, there is a dire need for the sector to take stock of how it is fulfilling its education and research responsibilities.

In filling this gap, Education Quality Network (EQN) is currently developing ‘EducationMark, a benchmarking tool to serve as an online repository or a one-stop performance management shop for private universities in Ghana to share and access data about how their peers are performing.

The EQN looks forward to collaborating with private universities in Ghana in a bid to creating an online space where comprehensive knowledge on best practices on costs management, access, quality management and relevance of the education they provide is accessible.

Most importantly, benchmarking will help improve quality standards in the sector and leverage the universities’ position on the quality spectrum.

In addition, benchmarking will, ultimately, cultivate a data collection culture among private universities.

***

AUTHOR: Jo-Jo Odjidja (PhD), Education Quality Assurance Consultant, Education Quality Network 
EMAIL: eqnoffice@gmail.com