ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT OF PRESBYTERIAN UNIVERSITY COLLEGE AT THE 11TH GRADUATION CEREMONY ON 28 OCTOBER 2017 AT THE RAMSEYER CONFERENCE HALL, ABETIFI.
- The Acting Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, who is also Acting as the Chancellor of the Presbyterian University College, Ghana, Rev. Dr. Victor Okoe Abbey,
- The Representative of the Guest Speaker
- The Chairperson of University Council, Dr. S.S Yirenkyi
- Presbytery Chairpersons
- Members of the University Council
- The Pro Vice Chancellor of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and Representatives of our Mentor Universities, University of Ghana, and University of Cape Coast
- Political Leaders
- Heads of Sister Universities
- The Clergy
- Vice President, PUCG
- Registrar, PUCG
- Deans of Faculty
- Members of Convocation
- Distinguished Invited Guests
- Staff and Students
- Members of the Media
- Ladies and Gentlemen
WELCOME AND APPRECIATION
I am delighted to welcome you all to the 11th Congregation of PUCG taking place at Abetifi, the Okwahu Campus of the University College. We thank God for a productive 2016/2017 academic year, which has resulted in today’s graduation of these beautiful sons and daughters of this country and university. We thank God for the travelling mercies granted to all the Distinguished Invited Guests, Graduands, Parents, Well-Wishers, and Visitors celebrating with us today. We warmly welcome you all.
We extend a special welcome to the Acting Chancellor, of the Presbyterian University College Ghana, the representative of the Guest Speaker, and the Chairman of the University Council for your presence and participation. A special welcome goes to the representatives of our mentor institutions, University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and University of Cape Coast. Your presence here make the ceremony complete. We thank the political leadership for your presence and continued support to the Presbyterian University College, Ghana. We acknowledge with gratitude the presence of representatives of the National Accreditation Board and the National Council of Tertiary Education.
To Nananom, we can only pray for God’s continued, guidance, strength, and wisdom as you continue to support us. You are all welcome and we thank you for gracing this occasion and making it meaningful for our graduands.
PURPOSE OF GATHERING
The graduation ceremony of any university is the highlight of its academic calendar. We have gathered here today to celebrate the success of these men and women who have undergone various disciplines in the University. Today marks a very special day in their lives as they receive rewards for their stewardship throughout their stay in PUCG.
Mr. Chancellor, we are graduating 837 students from the various programmes of the University.
The breakdown is as follows:
STATISTICS OF 2017 GRADUATING STUDENTS
PROGRAMME M F T
SCHOOL OF BUS. & ECONS.
B.Sc. Business Administration 102 131 233
Sc. Business Economics 12 8 20
Sc. Agribusiness 16 5 21
Sub-Total 130 144 274
FACULTY OF SCI & TECH
B.Sc. Inform & Comm. Tech 30 6 36
B.Sc. Mathematics 8 1 9
Sub-Total 38 7 45
FACULTY OF DEVT. STD.
B.Sc. Env. & Nat. Res. Mgt 29 25 54
B.A. Rural & Comm Development 17 29 46
Sub-Total 46 54 100
FACULTY OF HEALTH & MED. SCI.
B Sc. Physician Assistantship 133 72 205
B.Sc. Nursing 31 182 213
Sub-Total 164 254 418
TOTAL 378 459 837
SUMMARY M F T
FIRST CLASS HONORS 39 46 85
SECOND CLASS (UPPER DIVISION) 184 217 401
SECOND CLASS (LOWER DIVISION) 105 143 248
THIRD CLASS 44 44 88
PASS 6 9 15
TOTAL 378 459 837
The statistics of the classes show that the female students have done extremely well. Actually, they appear to have done better than their male counterparts. On behalf of the Chancellor, the University Council, Management, staff and students, I congratulate you all for the successful completion of your programmes of study in this University.
The last part of the third stanza of the University’s anthem reads:
“But when the victory has been won
At last, we will hear you say, “Well done”
On that great day
We will hear you say, “Well done”
Today, we say, “Well done” to you all.
Your parents, guardians, and relatives also contributed to your success. We thank them all for their support. Parents and guardians, Ye ma mo Ayekoo.
PUCG, as a community has continued to embrace discipline. This has not only improved its corporate image, but has also prepared most of our students for future prospects. I therefore call upon industry to embrace our graduates, who have demonstrated a complete transformation in their conduct and should therefore be given their fair and rightful place in our society.
SYNOPSIS OF REPORT
As is the convention, the head of the University is to give a report on the activities of the University, in the past year. I am pleased to report that our vision to become the Preferred Private University remains unchanged. Our “Visibility Agenda” has been well received, and for the first time in many years, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana has demonstrated some commitment to support the University on this path. This therefore calls for continued hard work, discipline, perseverance, courage, and above all, divine grace. The continued mobilization of human, material, and financial resources have remained a priority on our agenda. We have made some progress towards enhancing our staff profile and improving our academic and administrative systems.
A copy of the President’s Report has been made available to you, so no useful purpose would be served here by giving a detailed account of the activities of the university in 2016/2017 Academic Year. I wish to use this opportunity to comment on some issues in relation to Funding and other challenges that bedevil this University and many Private Universities in this country.
Private Universities, like PUCG face serious challenges. These range from inadequate funding, low student enrolment, inadequate infrastructure, inability to recruit and retain highly experienced faculty and staff, tortuous process of affiliation and accreditation, inadequate research output, and logistical support. Inadequate funding is the most debilitating challenge of it all. PUCG, like most private universities, rely almost entirely on internally generated funds for all its annual programmes and activities. Currently, it is difficult to raise enough revenue internally to cover operating budgets because of our inability to attract and retain high student enrolment. There is severe competition on the higher education scene. As at September 2017, there were about 74 accredited private tertiary institutions in the country in addition to 10 Public Universities, 6 Technical Universities and many other degree-awarding institutions. It would appear that the Private Universities are being squeezed out on student enrolment, by the Public Universities. There are too many Private Universities and they tend to offer similar programmes. I wish to suggest that a cap is placed on the establishment of new private universities except those prepared to offer specialized programmes like Engineering, Health, Technology or as determined by NAB/NCTE.
Realizing this, PUCG has adopted some measures to address student enrolment and the funding challenge.
PUCG RESPONSE TO FUNDING/STUDENT ENROLMENT
- Introduction of New Programmes
During the year under review, PUCG introduced Graduate Programmes. Our maiden Graduate Programme, M.Ed. Educational Studies, started in July this year and across three campuses of the University: Okwahu, Akropong, and Kumasi. More than Two Hundred and Sixty (260) students were enrolled, and duly matriculated.
NAB has also given accreditation to our M.A in International Development Programme and this would open for admission in June 2018. Programmes in M.Sc. in Environmental Health and Sanitation; M.Sc. in Natural Resources Management; and M.Sc. in Financial Risk Management are going through accreditation processes.
Other new Graduate Programmes, which are going through affiliation, include, M.Sc. in Occupational Health Safety and Environmental Management; and M.Sc. in Instructional Technology. These Graduate Programmes will give first-degree holders, competitive advantage in the job market.
PUCG is also introducing new professional programmes at the undergraduate level to contribute to national development. These include B. Sc Actuarial Science for which accreditation has been given, Bachelor of Laws (LLB) for which accreditation is being sought, and Doctor of Optometry; B.Sc. in Computer Engineering; B.A. in Communication Studies; for which affiliation is being sought. These programmes will give PUCG advantage in attracting students, including international students from the ECOWAS Sub Region.
Tailor-made Certificate Programmes in Occupational Safety, Health and Environmental Management; Public Service Leadership and Governance; Project Risk Management; Labor Law and Human Resource Policy; and Computerized Accounting Systems have been introduced.
- Research Grants
No institution of higher learning can lay claim to academic leadership without a vibrant research programme. PUCG is committed to academic research, and sourcing for research grants. PUCG encourages Faculty to source for funding through local and international collaboration.
Through this effort, the University, through the Faculty of Development Studies, was able to secure USD 44,000.00 from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund to implement a 16 months project entitled ‘Promoting Conservation of Endangered Primates in Three Forest Reserves in Ghana”. The University is encouraging faculty to network with research collaborators in order to boost our research profile and fund. I am appealing to industry and other organizations to sponsor or undertake joint research ventures with the University especially since we are the only private university located close to the Afram Plains. We want to assure you of the commitment of the entire University to continue to improve the research and academic quality of the University and to play an increasingly more relevant role in providing sustainable development solutions for Ghana and the global community.
- Pursuit of University Linkages
Linkages with universities, within and outside Africa are areas to explore in the quest to improve on academic scholarship and funding in the private universities. PUCG is pursuing this option. In order to give an international dimension to our programmes, the University has started some linkages with some foreign universities. The University has established collaboration with Canterbury Christ Church University UK (CCCU). Two main programme areas, identified as start to the collaboration, are Midwifery and Physiotherapy. CCCU will provide PUCG with expertise to draw up curricular for accreditation. Initial joint research, and Faculty and Student exchanges will revolve around these two programmes. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to govern this linkage.
I wish to specifically recognize Rev. Kofi Nyarkoh, the Chairperson of Europe Presbytery, of PCG and Dr. Kyeremeh, of UK for initiating this collaborative link. We are optimistic that this relationship will continue to flourish for the mutual benefit of our two institutions, in the upcoming years.
- Grant Proposal Writing
PUCG has sought professional expertise to train faculty and staff in grantsmanship to enable them write winnable proposals. Plans are ready to set up an Advancement Office staffed with professionals with the responsibility to train faculty in writing proposals for grants, fundraise, and drive Alumni to secure donations from them. To succeed in the Alumni drive, PUCG is determined to instill a sense of belonging and a culture of philanthropic giving in the students throughout their stay on campus and develop accurate databases of the alumni and their current placements
- Commercial Farming
An advantage that our semi urban location gives us is availability of land for commercial farming. PUCG, through the goodwill of the traditional rulers, has acquired lands for development of its permanent campuses. With delay in developing these permanent campuses, PUCG is deploying some of these lands to commercial farming to provide farm produce cheaply for the communities and generate income for the University. Fortunately, the message of the current government, One District One Factory, Planting for Food and Jobs, and the Free SHS, strongly support this initiative. There are universities in Africa that generate income through such means and produce foodstuffs cheaply for staff. We call on interested organizations and entrepreneurs to collaborate with us in this venture.
To give direction to some of these initiatives and many more, the University’s Strategic Plan has been reviewed accordingly, resulting in the production of a short-medium-long term implementation plans and priorities. This plan now guides the budgeting and operations within the University and I am certain that we will record significant improvements in all key performance indicators.
A successful implementation of this plan will secure the trajectory that will bring to fruition, a top ranked, and financially sustainable, fully-fledged, world-class institution with enduring and valuable scholarly excellence.
ROLE OF PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF GHANA
Calling for the support of organizations and entrepreneurs, brings my attention to the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, the owner of and major stakeholder in the University. Presbyterian Church of Ghana should be the first source of funding for the University. By the establishment of this great University in 2003, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, served notice to Ghana, and the entire world, that she was committed to high quality tertiary education in the country and beyond. This places enormous responsibility on the Church to provide infrastructure and ensure financial sustainability. The Church must begin to commit serious resources to the University in a number ways:
- Have a budget line for the University and allocate adequate funds to it annually.
- Organize annual fundraising events to target particular infrastructure needs of the University.
- Encourage individuals and congregations whom God has blessed to support the University. These can be in the form of Gifts, where gifts are voluntary non-reciprocal transfer of money or property from an individual, or a congregation to the University for a specific purpose, programme, project or used at the discretion of the institution. After all God blesses those who support education just as He blesses those who give to Pastors and support the Church. Education is the best investment anybody can think of.
- Set up an endowment fund for the University. The Moderator of the Church should spearhead this.
- Link the University to the Church’s foreign partners. A number of these foreign partners are willing to support laudable projects that have wider impact on communities.
- Provide scholarships for deserving students to study in this University.
We shall continue to impress upon the Church (PCG) to take up the responsibility of funding the University seriously. After all nobody forced the Church to start this University.
PUCG has taken some initiative to attract Presbyterian Students to enroll in the University. With effect from the 2017/2018 Academic Year, every Presbyterian Student enrolled will enjoy 5%-10% rebate on tuition fees. Besides, every student enjoys 5% discount on upfront payment of full tuition fees for the Academic Year. In addition, we have drastically reduced International Students Tuition Fees between 22%-50% with effect from the 2017-2018 Academic Year. We have also introduced with effect from this year, an Opanin Boateng Bursary Award for the best overall first year student. The award money will go towards the payment of the students second year fees.
ISSUES WITH AFFILIATION AND ACCREDITATION
In Ghana, a private university can operate and offer programmes, only when it is affiliated to a public or a chartered university for mentorship. PUCG and her programmes are affiliated to three universities. These are University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Technology, and University of Cape Coast. The affiliation process, although necessary to ensure quality of delivery, has placed the Private Universities in financial servitude and a gain to the mentor universities. The affiliation processes place excessive financial pressure on the Private Universities. For example, PUCG pay to one Mentor University the following:
- One-off Institutional Affiliation Fee (USD 5000)
- One-off programme fee (USD 2000 per programme)
- Annual service charge per every module (Regular, Evening, Weekend-USD 2000) at the Undergraduate Level, and USD 3000 at the Graduate Level
- Project Work (USD 20 per project work at the Undergraduate Level and USD 30 at Graduate Level)
In addition, Private Universities are responsible for the payment of the travelling and transport expenses, the sitting allowance, and accommodation of staff of mentor institutions who serve on our boards and committees, and the accommodation and feeding of staff who undertake moderation activities. Other mentor universities charge additional USD 8.00 per student annually for the duration of the students stay in the university. On top of all these, the National Accreditation Board comes with its charges after the institutions have grappled with needed infrastructure, appointment of staff, books for library to meet the rigorous demands of accreditation.
It would be a great relieve to PUCG and I am sure other Private Universities, if these processes of affiliation and accreditation are streamlined to reduce the financial burden on Private Universities. NAB and NCTE should become referees and bail Private Universities out of this predicament. A more positive way is to grant automatic charter status to all Private Universities that have gone through successful mentorship for ten years to fifteen years, upon the recommendation of the mentor institutions. NAB will still scrutinize new programmes before they are offered by the Private Universities, a job that it has been doing excellently well. Monies saved, can be channeled into research and staff development
ISSUES FOR CONSIDERATION OF GOVERNMENT
Let me take this opportunity yet again to comment on few issues of national discourse on tertiary education.
Private institutions have brought dynamism and competition into the sector and made higher education provision more market-oriented than it was under public monopoly. The private universities were set up to make higher education accessible and affordable to the citizens, especially the working class who could now study and work at the same time. Therefore, all stakeholders must put their shoulders to the wheel to ensure that Private Universities, especially the non-for-profit institutions, survive.
- Employment of Graduates Nurses from Private Universities
It is quite incomprehensible that in this era of advancement in Nursing Care, and high ratio of nurses to patients, the Government of Ghana finds it very comfortable to allow Nurses trained by various private universities-to sit at home instead of creating the enabling environment for them to render essential services to the country. I ask the following basic questions:
- What could be the reason for government to leave Nurses to waste in the house after four years training in the universities and an additional year of Internship?
- Which other jobs are more suitable and available for these brilliant students to do aside Nursing after being trained as Nurses?
- Are Degree Nurses not competent enough to work in the numerous governments healthcare facilities that are in need of nursing staff?
- What is the future of students who are currently studying Nursing in the various private universities and those hoping to be enrolled as Nursing Students in our universities considering the current circumstance?
In the light of the above, we call on Government and its agencies responsible for employing Nurses to reconsider its decision and rather absorb these Degree Nurses into various hospitals to serve their country with the skills and competencies they have acquired through their training.
We also entreat government to seriously consider the exportation of Nurses to other countries, if the Government feels that our health sector is now inundated with Nurses in order to curb the situation of unemployment.
- 25% Tax on Private Universities
The Government is a stakeholder in Private University Education because certain policies of Government affect the funding situation of the Private Universities. One of such policies is the 25% corporate tax that Private Universities pay on surpluses. These surpluses are imaginary, and if there are any surpluses, these are ploughed back into the university. We implore Government to abolish these taxes since they are serious disincentive to Private Education Enterprise.
- Support from GETFund
I wish to return here to the debate on the use of public funds to support Private Universities. Here I am referring to the use of a percentage of the GETFund to support Private Universities. I wish to give some reasons in support of this position.
- Considerable number of Ghanaian students study in Private Universities. The universities they attend deserve research grants, and subsidies for equipment, infrastructural expansion, and vehicles from Government because their parents and guardians also pay taxes into funds used to support Public Universities.
- The Private Universities, especially the Mission Church Universities are not for profit.
- Private Universities are building the human capital of this nation just as the Public Universities.
- Graduates of Private Universities make significant contributions to their family life and to the progress of science, culture, and arts of various fields.
- Private Universities have become integral part of Higher Education System in this country and it should be in the country’s interest to ensure their survival.
- There must be fair and equal treatment of students regardless of their institutions.
- Private Universities such as PUCG have campuses in areas where the populations are less privileged and their presence have improved the socio economic life of the people. This must count for some support from Government.
The debate on the use of public funds to support Private Higher Education in this country should be intensified, and the Heads of Churches are to play an advocacy role. Belgium and Netherlands offer examples of clear cases where Private Higher Education depends on public funding. We can learn from their experiences.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our efforts to build this University have received enormous goodwill and support from various quarters. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, through the Moderator, for its overall continued support. Papa Moderator, we appreciate your invaluable support to the University. We can only ask for more as we work towards making PUCG the preferred University in Ghana and beyond.
The overwhelming supports from the Chiefs and people of Okwahu, Akuapem, and Asante Akyem Agogo cannot be neglected. Nananom, we are grateful for your support.
I also thank most sincerely the University Council, for providing the policy framework, strategic direction, and stewardship. In spite of the many challenges, you have provided the right environment for us to discharge the objectives and functions of the University adequately. The Chairman of Council deserves special mention. His frequent calls of encouragement, direction, and support are invaluable.
I wish to greatly appreciate our faculty and staff for serving this University diligently. I thank each and every one of you for your consistent and focused hard work which you have discharged with great dedication and passion. I salute you all. I urge you to never tire of this noble calling for the good of our University, country and humanity.
Our heartiest appreciation goes to parents and guardians for the sacrifices made and also for entrusting your wards to us for training. We believe the training given to these graduands will bring benefits to you and the nation at large.
Finally, I would like to thank the students for observing the rules and regulations governing their conduct and also for maintaining the very high level of discipline that has ensured smooth running of the University. This is definitely not a weakness but a remarkable strength. The University Community and the general public are very proud of you.
ADVICE TO THE GRADUANDS
Finally Mr. Chancellor, permit me to share a few thoughts with the graduands.
As you leave this ceremony, remember that you have in fact become a role model. Others are looking up to you. They may even want to follow your footsteps and enroll in this great institution. Of course, they would like to see how you use your academic success not only to your own advantage but also for the benefit of the nation as a whole.
It behooves on you therefore to be very circumspect in reacting to outside influences. Do not allow people to influence you to follow negative or unproductive ideas that are bereft of patriotism and good conduct. I know that as educated elites and future leaders of this country, many people may try using all sorts of ploys to bend you to their own wishes. Be steadfast in your beliefs. Always put your country first.
Let me appeal to you to adopt a comportment and lifestyle that will do honour not only to the University and your parents but also to your very selves. I am confident that as your President, I can safely assure all and sundry that both the graduands and the students of this University will continue to constitute a proactive force in the development of our nation.
I hope that those who are leaving and those who will remain in the University to continue their studies will find inspiration in the five core values which are enunciated across the University: Excellence, Commitment, Integrity, Discipline, and Faith in God.
Finally, I wish you successful careers and also encourage you to come back and further your studies. In the same breath, you are joining over 5,000 alumni who have successfully proven the quality of the PUCG brand. I urge you to be our goodwill ambassadors in the market as you pursue your careers. I further welcome you to join our Alumni Association and to support in building this great University. Now my last words of prayer for you is paraphrased from Psalm 3: A Psalm of David when he was fleeing from his son Absalom:
The Lord God will be a shield around you and deliver you from every adversary that will rise up against you. God will lift up your head high.
When you call upon the Lord, He will answer you from His Holy Mountain.
If you lie down and sleep, you will wake again because the lord will sustain you.
You will not fear, though tens of thousands assail you on every side because the Lord will arise, strike all your enemies on the jaw, and break the teeth of the wicked. From the LORD comes deliverance. The blessings of the Lord are on you his people. Amen!