The Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) has assured students of the University of Ghana (UG) and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) that their interests will be protected in the ongoing saga of unaccredited programmes.
The assurance follows the release of the 2021 Auditor-General’s Report, which indicated that over 600 programmes run by the two leading universities were without accreditation.
According to the report, of the 360 programmes run by the KNUST, only 61 were accredited, while 374 of the programmes offered in the UG were unaccredited.
This has triggered concerns about the validity of the certificates issued by the two universities to those who participate in such programmes.
However, the Director-General of the GTEC, Professor Mohammed Salifu, has allayed such fears, saying: “We want to reassure the students that their interests will be at the centre of the resolution of the problem and shall be protected.”
“We are fully aware that the students are the likely innocent and unfortunate victims and so the commission will make sure that their interests are protected,” Prof Salifu told Graphic Online’s Severious Kale-Dery.
Prof. Salifu said the issues were “legacy issues” that predated the establishment of GTEC, and added that the commission had been working with the universities for a speedy resolution, even before the release of the Auditor-General’s Report.
“As a result, many of the programmes flagged as being without active accreditation in the report have either now been fully reaccredited or are at advanced stages of consideration by GTEC.”
“Indeed, some are due to be approved by the next board meeting on September 15, 2022,” he added.
Prof. Salifu explained that every programme offered by a university at first accreditation was for a period of three years and subsequently for a five-year duration for re-accreditation.
Therefore, all programmes had to go through reaccreditation every five years, he pointed out.
He explained that the rationale for re-accreditation was to ensure that the programmes remained fit for purpose and were being delivered to the required standards and quality.
He added that every accreditation approval letter explicitly stated that the “institution must start the process for re-accreditation one year before the expiry of the current accreditation”.
“So the onus is on the university to trigger the process by completing the appropriate self-assessment questionnaire freely available on the GTEC website,” he added.
The director-general expressed regret that in spite of the above provisions, many of the programmes referred to by the Auditor-General’s Report had their accreditation by the erstwhile National Accreditation Board lapsing as far back as 2013, without any action being taken by the universities in accordance with the conditions of accreditation and the law.
Prof. Salifu said claims that the problem was due to the slow nature of the assessment process or bureaucracy at GTEC were a misleading distraction intended to shift blame.
In his view, “if both universities had simply followed the rules and the law, the problem we are addressing today would not have arisen”.
“The GTEC takes responsibility for its processes and strives to improve upon them all the times, even though one or two isolated glitches may occur occasionally, as it is with every human institution.
“But, certainly, running a programme without accreditation, whether expired or never acquired, since 2013 cannot reasonably be blamed on bureaucracy or inaction by an institution that is barely two years old,” he said.
He reminded managers of all universities about the severe sanctions regime prescribed under the new Education Regulatory Bodies Act 2020 (Act 1023), which included steep fines or imprisonment or both for “advertising; causing to be advertised and/or running an institution or programme without a valid accreditation”.
“For now, our priority is working proactively with the universities to rectify the current situation, but the universities need to be on notice, as they were informed during engagements with GTEC, long before the release of the Auditor-General’s report, that some sanctions would have to follow after the resolution.
“It is important that measures taken as part of the process for resolving this situation are deterrent enough to avoid any future recurrence,” he said.
He hinted that at a meeting held last Friday, at the instance of the Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, between council chairpersons and vice-chancellors of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), KNUST and UG, on the one hand, and the GTEC, on the other, both parties resolved to expedite action on the prior agreed plan for a speedy resolution.
Prof. Salifu advised potential students and parents to always visit the GTEC website to check on the accreditation status of all programmes before enrolling onto them.
They should also form the habit of looking out for the list of GTEC accredited institutions published in the media from time to time to guide their choices, he added.