- The Chairperson of University Council, Dr. S.S Yirenkyi,
- The Moderator Elect of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rev. Prof. Joseph Obiri Yeboah Mante,
- The Clerk of the General Assembly of PCG, Rev. Dr. S. Ayete Nyampong,
- The Guest Speaker, Mr. R. Yofi Grant, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre,
- Members of the University Council,
- Presbytery Chairpersons,
- The Clergy,
- Representatives of our Mentor Universities, University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and University of Cape Coast,
- Representatives from NCTE, NAB
- Heads of Sister Universities,
- Vice President, PUCG
- Registrar, PUCG
- Members of Convocation,
- Political Leaders,
- Parents and Guardians,
- Distinguished Invited Guests,
- Staff and Students of PUCG
- Members of the Media,
- Ladies and Gentlemen
WELCOME AND APPRECIATION
I am delighted to welcome you all to the 12th Congregation of PUCG taking place at Abetifi. I am particularly grateful to God for a successful completion of the 2017/2018 academic year, for which reason we have all gathered at the Abetifi Campus of the University College, to celebrate our gallant sons and daughters of this country and University on the occasion of their graduation. We thank God for the travelling mercies granted to everybody celebrating with us today-Distinguished Invited Guests, Graduands, Parents, Well-Wishers, and Visitors. You are all warmly welcome.
We wish to extend a special welcome to the Moderator-Elect of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rev. Prof J.O.Y. Mante. We thank God for choosing you to lead the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, at this point in the history of the Church. By the University Statutes, you will become the Chancellor of this University College, once you are inducted into office on the 1 December 2018. We look forward with excitement to your leadership of our Church, and this University. The Lord God be your strength and shield, and the source of your wisdom and utterances. We warmly welcome the Chairman of the University Council, Dr. S. S. Yirenkyi, the Clerk of the General Assembly of PCG, and the Guest Speaker, Mr. R. Yofi Grant. We are grateful for your presence and participation.
A special welcome also 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 for Tertiary Education. We also acknowledge the presence of the President of the Ghana Institute of Planners, Mr. Alfred Kwasi Opoku. This is your first attendance at our Graduation and we are grateful for your time and participation.
To Nananom, we can only pray for God’s continued blessings, 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 training in 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.
Chairperson, we are graduating 681 students from the various programmes of the University, made of 356 males (52.3%) and 325 females (47.7%).
The breakdown is as follows:
STATISTICS OF 2018 GRADUATING STUDENTS
PROGRAMME M F T
|SCHOOL OF BUSINESS & ECONOMICS|
|B.Sc. Business Administration||72||90||162|
|B. Sc. Business Economics||8||6||14|
|B. Sc. Agribusiness||33||3||36|
|FACULTY OF SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY|
|B.Sc. Inform & Comm. Tech||16||2||18|
|FACULTY OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES|
|B.Sc. Env. & Nat. Res. Mgt||20||12||32|
|B.A. Rural & Comm Development||11||18||29|
|FACULTY OF HEALTH & MEDICAL SCIENCES|
|B Sc. Physician Assistantship||141||60||201|
SUMMARY M (%) F (%) T
FIRST CLASS HONORS 27(7.7) 39 (12) 66
SECOND CLASS (UPPER DIVISION) 155 (43.5) 151 (46.4) 306
SECOND CLASS (LOWER DIVISION) 159 (44.7) 129 (39.7) 288
THIRD CLASS 11 (3.1) 6 (1.7) 17
PASS 4 (1.1) 0 (-) 4
TOTAL 356 325 681
Chairperson, the statistics above is the percentage of the class distribution per gender. It shows that the female students have done extremely well. Actually, they appear to have done better than their male counterparts. On behalf of the University Council, Management, Staff, and Students, and all of us here present, I congratulate you all for the successful completion of your programmes of study in this University.
It is worthy to note that the majority of the students graduating today, fall within the First Class to Second Class Lower Category, with only 21 students making Third Class and Pass respectively.
I have a special bond with this class of 2018 because this group was in the first year when I assumed office as the President of this University. These graduands are special because I started with them.
Dear graduands, your parents, guardians, and relatives have contributed immensely to your success. We salute them and thank them for their support. Please let us give a round of applause to our Parents and Guardians. “Ye ma mo Ayekoo!”
SYNOPSIS OF REPORT
As is the convention, the head of the University is to give a report on the activities of the University, for the past year. I wish to state that PUCG’s quest to become the Preferred Private University remains unchanged. Our “Visibility Agenda” is still on course.
Chairperson, I wish to officially report to Congregation that the Founding Registrar of the University, Mr. Kwadwo Amo Osei retired from the University on 31st August, 2018. We thank him for the 15 years of dedicated service he rendered to the University. We wish him well in his retirement.
The University Council has appointed a new Registrar, Mrs. Mary Abena Agyepong who assumed duty on 15th August 2018. She has settled in well. She is a team player. We look forward to a fruitful working relationship.
Chairperson, a detailed account of the activities of the University in 2017/2018 Academic Year has been captured in the President’s Report, which has been made available to you. I wish to touch on a couple of issues.
As part of the University’s quest to produce graduates who are fit for the 21st Century Job Market, the University worked assiduously in the past academic year to develop more Graduate, Certificate, and Professional Programmes. We believe that this will better prepare our students, and give them professional training as well as equip them with employable skills for the 21st Century Job Market.
ACCREDITATION ISSUES AND NEW PROGRAMMES
The University has received accreditation to commence the Bachelor of Laws (LLB), MSc. Environmental Health and Sanitation, MSc. Natural Resources Management and M.A International Development Studies. These programmes have started this year on our various campuses.
The BSc Computer Engineering Programme and the MSc. Financial Risk Management Programme are receiving attention at NAB. We are optimistic that we will receive approval for the programmes to begin next year.
In a bid to offer a top-up for the students who have completed the Master of Education in Educational Studies Programme, and to upgrade them, to make them eligible to teach at the tertiary level, PUCG has submitted an M.Phil Educational Studies programme document to the University of Cape Coast for affiliation. A Doctor of Optometry, BSc. International Development and B.A. in Communication Studies Programmes are still going through the process of affiliation.
The theme for this year’s graduation ceremony is “Graduate Deployment: the Nexus of Higher Education and the Job Market.
Chairperson, I believe that the theme for this year’s ceremony is apt. It is a timely call for us to critically examine the unemployment situation in the country. Graduate unemployment is on ascendency in Ghana. Our Universities continue to produce thousands of students every year and most of these graduates do not get job placements after their National Service.
This is a worrying trend and the Presbyterian University College, Ghana together with other Private Universities must find ways to ensure that our graduates overcome this challenge of unemployment that has bedeviled our dear nation.
We at PUCG have realized the gap between academia and the world of work. We believe that by including the following in the teaching of our courses or programmes, we could enhance the employability rate of our graduates:
- Strong Academia- Industry Linkages
- Development of Pragmatic Curricula that are relevant to the socio-political developmental needs of the Nation
- Equipping graduates with the requisite skills to establish their own businesses
- Career Guidance Services
- Adequate Funding for Young Entrepreneurs
Since we have a very special person here, Mr. R Yofi Grant to speak to us on this theme, I wish to touch briefly on a couple of points.
- Strong Academia- Industry Linkages
Universities and the private enterprise have different cultures that getting these two, to collaborate to develop industries and create jobs always poses a challenge. Even though they have different missions and cultures, there are mutual benefits to these collaborations. When companies and universities work in tandem to push the frontiers of knowledge, they become a powerful engine for innovation and economic growth. So universities and industry in Ghana should be more creative and flexible and collaborate.
We believe that every effort should be made to bridge the gap between our Universities and industry to generate the kind of relationship that ensures that education at the tertiary level is apt to the skills requirement of industries.
An enhanced relationship between Academia and Industry can provide an avenue for Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) to send their students for industrial attachment and internships to enable them gain some hands on experience before graduating and moving into the world of work. This could be a win-win situation: students of HEIs gain practical experience in addition to the academic studies and are provided with the required skills needed by the industries, and industries gain qualified and highly skilled human resource to drive the engine of private enterprise.
The Academia-Industry linkage has been adopted in the developed countries and they have derived numerous advantages from it. We can also do it.
Presbyterian University College, Ghana is taking advantage of this concept in the training of students to make them marketable after graduation. A concern here, however, is that there are few vibrant industries available and willing to partner with Private Universities, especially those of us sited in the semi-urban areas. This is why we are anxiously waiting for the full-scale implementation of the one district, one factory concept of the government.
- Development of Pragmatic and Relevant Curricula for socio-political developmental needs of the nation
Private Universities continue to run similar programmes in Business and Social Sciences, shying away from the capital-intensive programmes in Science and Technology, which will help drive industries and grow the economy. Thus, we end up producing a glut of graduates who do not meet the actual needs of industry and therefore do not fit well into the world of work.
At PUCG, we believe that the way forward for private universities is for them to develop curricula that are relevant to the needs of the Ghanaian industries and meet the complexity of the changing working environment. In other words, the focus of the 21st Century Curricular should be on solving pervasive problems in our societies: the problems of sanitation, education, health, land degradation, etc. and we need graduates to help solve these challenges in our communities.
We must ensure that we blend modern trends and technological advancement in our curriculum to make our products competitive in the 21st Century Job Market. This calls for a constant review of our existing programmes in consultation with industries and the professional bodies, so that the curricular suit the needs of the modern working environment. The use of ICT and Computer aided solutions should be incorporated in our teaching to ensure that our graduates are not left behind in this global era of Technology.
- Equipping graduates with the requisite skills to establish their own businesses
It is a fact that majority of graduates from our universities look to the Government for jobs after their tertiary education. Government jobs are however limited and are sometimes restricted by donor agency conditions. Universities are thus encouraged to equip their students with the requisite entrepreneurial skills before they graduate, to enable them create businesses for themselves and others.
The production of graduates by tertiary institutions does not correspond with the generation of jobs in the industries. The onus therefore lies on HEIs and the Government to make every effort to equip students to become entrepreneurs.
The Presbyterian University College, Ghana, for this reason has introduced courses in Entrepreneurship for all programmes at the undergraduate level. Our aim is to provide our students with the needed skills to establish themselves in business after graduation. I wish to take this opportunity to urge our lecturers to make the teaching of courses in Entrepreneurship as practical and logical as possible for the students.
- Adequate Funding for Young Entrepreneurs
One of the biggest challenges facing young entrepreneurs is funding. Access to funds is very difficult for most young graduates in Ghana who may wish to start a business on their own. We therefore call on the industries and government to come out with a funding policy to provide initial capital for graduates who may wish to establish their own business. A social intervention initiative associated with funding may reduce the unemployment situation in Ghana. The creation of technology parks to enable young entrepreneurs and researchers to grow up their ideas and businesses is long overdue in this country. These interventions should be made accessible to all.
Additionally, banks must be encouraged to consider granting medium or long-term loans to graduates to fund their businesses.
- Career Guidance Services
Universities should also set up Career Guidance and Counseling Units to offer advice to students on their career paths. It is interesting to note that a number of our graduates who leave our universities do not usually know what next to do after school. It is therefore necessary for every university to offer career services for it graduates to ensure their employability after graduation.
A CALL TO INDUSTRY PLAYERS-COLLABORATION
I wish to call for a much closer collaboration from the various industries with the Higher Educational Institutions in the training of students. As practiced elsewhere, the industry players are given the opportunity to interact with the students on a regular basis. This interaction helps students to know the demands of industry before they enter into the world of work. These collaborations could also be in the form of sponsorship support to students.
It is worth mentioning that in the year under review, PUCG received scholarship awards from two firms in the Financial Industry. The Firms are Barclays Bank Limited, Ghana and the Beige Foundation Ghana.
Barclays Bank Limited, Ghana presented scholarship packages to eleven (11) students from Presbyterian University College, Ghana (PUCG) through its Tertiary Education Scholarship, under the Barclays Shared Growth Agenda.
The scholarship package was worth about GHȻ110,000.00 and catered for the students’ tuition fees, printing, hostel and academic user facility fees, laptop and feeding allowance for the 2017/2018 Academic Year.
The Beige Foundation Ghana also awarded six (6) students from PUCG with about GH₵20,000.00 package. Each student received GH₵ 3,000.00 and a citation.
These companies also promised to engage our students in mentorship programmes with their foundation to empower them to contribute positively and productively towards the development of their communities.
We have also received sponsorship from GCB Bank as awards, for our graduating students: a 43-inch flat screen TV for the overall best student and a laptop for the second best overall student and some cash prizes. Vodafone has also supported this year’s graduation ceremony by absorbing the cost of printing the President’s Report and Brochures. Let us give a round of applause for these financial institutions and companies.
FUTURE OF PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES IN GHANA
Private Universities in Ghana are currently facing serious challenges. These range from inadequate funding, low student enrolment, inadequate infrastructure, inability to recruit and retain highly experienced and qualified faculty and staff, inadequate research output, and logistical support.
Inadequate funding is the most debilitating challenge of it all. A number of the private universities rely almost entirely on internally generated funds for all their annual programmes and activities, since in most cases our owners who established us, like PUCG seem to have abandoned us to our financial fate.
The survival and growth of these Universities are under threat because currently it is difficult to raise enough revenue internally to cover operating budgets. This is mainly due to private universities inability to attract and retain high student enrolment. The situation has forced some Private Universities to lay off staff, cease infrastructural works, delay in payment of salaries, and reduce funding for research activities.
Apart from the fact that the private universities are too many and therefore enemies to themselves, the situation has been worsened by the keen competition from the Public Universities. Hitherto, Public universities had cut off grades for certain programmes, for prospective applicants. Nowadays there is a clear disregard of such cut of points.
There used to be a percentage limit to the admission of fee-paying students into Public Universities. Now the sky is the limit for them. So long as the student is prepared to pay fees at full cost, an admission letter is issued. Students who do not fall within the required aggregates are enrolled into various Diploma Programmes for a number of years after which they are made to pursue Degree programmes.
The current crisis in KNUST should be wake up call to us that the facilities in our Public Universities are overstretched and some attempts should be made to curb admission figures into them to enable the Private Universities to breathe.
Chairperson, I do not intend to wade into the ongoing banter between Government and KNUST Council, students and other bodies, but permit me to make some few remarks.
Student protest in Ghana and elsewhere in the world is not a new phenomenon. Students have every right to a peaceful protest on their campuses in response to social, personal and policy injustice. However, in exercising that constitutional right, they need to be mindful of the University’s Rules and Regulations in order not to “fall foul of the law.” It is with this premise that nobody can condone the acts of violence, vandalism, and massive destruction of properties perpetrated by students as an alternative method in articulating dissatisfaction and for drawing the attention of University Management to specific issues of students concerns.
We have heard that over 40 vehicles, several office equipment, administrative building, halls of residence, and other key facilities were destroyed. A number of persons were also injured. These properties are worth millions of Ghana Cedis, not to talk of perpetual life damage to some people. This offers lessons in University Leadership and a deeper reflection on the issues facing our tertiary education landscape.
Firstly, for us to defuse these traits of violence in our educational sector, different forms of engagement between University Leaders and Students as well as other identifiable groups are required at different levels. Students should not hide behind “social media space” to incite people and inflame passions in protest against policies. Neither should they allow themselves to be manipulated by politicians, alumni and other bodies to cause mayhem and destructions in order to achieve their own parochial interests.
Similarly, University Leaders should not undermine the capabilities of students. Students want better representation of their views throughout their University’s structures and are willing to engage positively and constructively in that regard. Instead of seeking to suppress or ignore this critical engagement, university management must dialogue, encourage their inputs, apply its rules, and create a culture of catering for student welfare because they are the “life blood” of the University. Without them, the University do not exist.
Second and the most crucial one has to do with congestion in our major public Universities. Chairperson, here are some admission statistics for the 2018/2019 Academic Year to spur national discussions on the need to strengthen the admission criteria for these major universities.
|Application Received||Students enrolled|
|University of Ghana||51,321||12,811|
|University of Cape Coast||18,032||5,962|
The rising appetite of these major public universities to increase enrolment amidst limited infrastructure and faculty members is a great disincentive to private universities who even struggle to admit 1,000 students in any given Academic Year.
Today, these universities, despite the annual subventions from the Government and infrastructural and logistical support from GETFund, admit more fee paying students than before, offer distance education, operate satellite campuses, run weekend, evening, sandwich programmes, and serve as mentors to Private Universities, a costly enterprise.
How can we (private universities) survive in these unfavorable conditions? I think that there is a calculated attempt by the Public Universities to cripple the Private Universities and they will succeed in doing this if NCTE does not reinstate some of the earlier checks on Public Universities.
We therefore call on the Government through the National Council for Tertiary Education, the Minister of State for Tertiary Education and the NAB to rationalize and enforce the admission requirements of these universities in relation to students-lecturer ratios.
WAY FORWARD FOR PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES IN GHANA
We at PUCG believe that the Private University Enterprise can be strengthened through:
- Collaborations / Partnerships among the Faith Based Private Universities
We want to appeal to Faith Based Private Universities with similar aims and objectives to come together in a form of Collaboration/ Partnership to provide quality education to people. The collaboration could be in the area of Staffing, Research and Publications, Joint Academic Programmes and Mentorship. Such collaborations would be a win-win approach for the institutions involved.
These collaborations have the potential of reducing cost and promoting mutual benefit to partnering institutions while maintaining quality in educational standards.
We want to take the opportunity to call on Faith Based Private Universities to welcome such collaborative initiatives and endeavor to pilot its implementation to achieve great success.
- Creation of Niche in the Delivery of Programmes and Training
Private Universities should endeavor to create niches for themselves. We should begin to identify the gaps in the academia- industry linkage and capitalize on them. Each private university in the country should be known for a peculiar manner of training of its students.
Here at PUCG, we are known for training disciplined leaders through Holistic Education to meet the needs of the industry.
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, for the establishment of this University, but we feel orphaned. When we lift up our eyes to the Church, not much help comes from there. Papa Prof. J. O. Y. Mante, you are no magician but we expect you to perform magic for us in this University. We expect to hold our next year graduation in our own auditorium. Papa please make it happen!
We acknowledge the support of the Chiefs and people of Okwahu, Akuapem, and Asante Akyem for this University, but the initial euphoria for siting the University campuses in these areas have waned. Nananom, we need to rekindle the spirit of support for the University.
I also thank the University Council, for providing the policy framework, and strategic direction. 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 Chairperson of Council deserves special mention. As is his nature, he calls frequently to offer encouragement, give direction, and offer invaluable support.
I wish to greatly appreciate our Senior Members (academic and administrative), Junior, and Senior Staff, for serving this University diligently. I thank each one of you for your consistent and focused hard work, which you have discharged with great dedication and passion. Some of you deserve special mention, but today 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 for entrusting your wards to us for training. We believe the training given to these graduands will bring benefits to themselves, you, and the nation at large.
Finally, I would like to thank the students for observing the Rules and Regulations governing their conduct and 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 public are very proud of you.
ADVICE TO THE GRADUANDS
Finally, I wish to share a few thoughts with the graduands.
Dear graduands, it has been our pride and joy to have been entrusted with your care and training, these past four or three years. Your training has ended and we are declaring to the whole world today that we are proud of how you have turned out.
Therefore, I wish to beseech you to be worthy ambassadors of this University. As you leave this ceremony, remember to display to the world the virtues of Honesty, Discipline, Commitment, Determination, and Faith in God. These are the core values of the University. As you walk into the world of work, you are bound to face challenges but these values will stand you in good stead.
Strive to be faithful stewards. Do not let the get-rich-quick syndrome lure you into engaging in all manner of illicit activities.
Each graduand will receive a package from the University during the conferment of your degrees. In the package is a Bible. By that, we are reminding you that the basis of all wisdom is the Word of God. The Bible should be your guide. It should remind you that whatever you do, you do it for the Lord Christ Jesus rather than for people, and the Lord God will give you an inheritance as your reward.
Shun mediocrity! You are above that. Strife to excel in whatever you put your hands to and in whichever situation you find yourselves. Associate with people who will help you to achieve greater heights and never consort with fools.
As you walk out of this auditorium, remember that it is not the end to your academic pursuit. Acquisition of knowledge is a never-ending process- it is a continuum. The foundation for further studies has been laid for you at PUCG. I wish to encourage you to pursue programmes that will give you momentum to deliver on your mandate at your various places of work and positions. All I am saying is, SEEK TO DEVELOP YOUR SELF PERPETUALLY. Come back and take advantage of our Graduate Programmes.
I wish you successful careers and bright futures.
I invoke the blessings of the Lord Almighty God upon you.
- May God empower you, strengthen you, to dare to be different from all your peers and be disciplined leaders.
- May He preserve your going out and coming in and keep you from all harm, fixing your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.
- The Peace of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen. Thank you and God bless you all.