Universities Bill should not be allowed to see the light of day – UTAG-UG
The University of Ghana (UG) branch of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has rejected the Draft Ghana Public Universities Bill 2018, stating it gives the government too much power to interfere in the affairs of universities.
The association believed the current draft Bill “seeks to take back power from university management, academics and their unions and students, and place them in the hands of the President of the Republic, the Minister of Education, the NCTE and the government’s majority representatives on the university council the ultimate powers to make decisions for all public universities”.
This was contained in a report issued by a committee constituted by the association on April 12 to scrutinise the Bill, a copy of which is available to theghanareport.com.
For them, such an action would be contrary to Ghana’s democratic credentials with the potential of eroding Ghana’s gains on the continent.
“It is for this reason that the Bill should not be allowed to see the light of day,” the five-member committee, chaired by Prof. Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, concluded.
UTAG-UG outlined about 15 clauses in the Bill which could hamper tertiary education in the country including abuse of power and imposition of directives based on politics.
The appointment of a 10-member University Council by the President was also rejected because the lecturers held the view that, “It immediately gives the government total control over the Council”.
They argued that the traditional process for effecting changes in laws governing universities and their administration was been side-stepped.
“The explanatory memorandum of the Bill does not provide any convincing rationale for the decision to have all the universities in Ghana governed by one law and a common set of statutes.
“The objective of the Bill is not clear and raises several issues that may pose a threat to what generations over the years have fought for in the governance of our universities other tertiary institutions – academic freedom and freedom from governmental interference,” UTAG-UG added.
The university lecturers recommended that the government collaborate with the relevant stakeholders on the university campuses to agree on a law that would guarantee the autonomy of each university.
Such a law, he said should also recognise the right of each university to have its own laws in order to promote innovativeness, competitiveness and difference that would bring out quality standards in what they do to progress.
The Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, had stated in the past when the Bill was first introduced that the academic freedom and autonomy of public universities would not be undermined.
In 2019, he stated that the public reaction and initial comments by some persons in academia kicking against the introduction of the Bill were premature.
However, the UG lecturers have maintained their position and firmly believed the Bill should be shelved.
The umbrella association for lecturer across the country, UTAG, has also rejected the proposed Bill in 2019 and called for further stakeholder consultations.
Below is the full report.