Open universities to bridge deficit
- March 11, 2017
As the demand for university education increases, the trend of distance education in the country has also taken a new dimension with the emergence of Open Universities (OU) across the country. The goal of OUs is to offer everyone equal opportunity to develop their competence, raise their level of education and to receive retraining. Currently two universities viz. Laweh Open University and the Accra Institute of Technology – operate Open University systems in the country. The Accra Institute of Technology’s Open University programme is affiliated to the Open University of Malaysia. Laweh Open University is global partner with the Franklin University, USA, for the award of its degrees, diplomas and certificates. Private Universities and the emerging Open Universities are critical in absorbing the thousands of applicants who are refused admission, though qualified, by traditional universities. The University of Ghana rejected 17,524 qualified students — representing almost 50 % of the 2015/16 academic year admissions — as a result of limited facilities. The university received a total of 35,630 application and was able to offer admission to only 18,106 applicants. The University of Professional Studies (UPSA) also reduced admissions for last year, by 18 %, on similar grounds of limited facilities.
Out of a total of 7,234 applicants UPSA admitted 3,582 — representing 49.5 % of the number that applied. Almost by all the major traditional universities. Professor Goski Alabi, a professor of Quality Management and Leadership and Dean, Centre for International Education and Collaboration (CIEC) at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) believes that given the current demand and changing trends in education, the Open University concept is laudable.
“Open Universities enhance quality of output. The reason is that, for many of the traditional universities, what they emphasize today in Ghana and Africa is certification not education. So for many of us, it is about what grade you get not about learning but the ability to get some grades, graduate and not what you can actually do. People we claim, were not good to have university education such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, were the people who turned the world around. So with this new age, we have come to a point where the world has recognised the need to give everybody the opportunity to have a university education. So I second an Open University system.
It is reckoned that the largest universities in the world are Open Universities. The famous examples include the Open University of the UK, which has a student population of more than 220,000 spread over a number of countries; the University of South Africa (UNISA)–the southern African country’s open university with a student population of about 200,000; and the Indira Gandhi National Open University of India, with a student population of close to two (2) million.
Prof. Clement Dzidornu, President of Accra Institute of Technology, notes that: “In the emerging knowledge-age, everyone deserves to go to university and Open University is the way to go in the future, if we are to ensure that the vast majority of qualified applicants do get the chance to go to university.” According to him, open universities provide access to university education regardless of time and place. He said the opportunity for “earning while learning” is one of the key contributing factors to the increasing numbers of students enrolling in Open Universities world-wide.
Prof Joshua Alabi, a member of the Laweh Open University governing board and a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies (UPSA), during the launch of the university, urged government to place more emphasis on the Open University system. ” If you look at the current admission system, a student who performs excellently in other subjects but gets D7 or E8 in any of the core subjects is not eligible to access university education. This system, if not checked, will make the country lose a lot of human resource potential,” Prof Alabi said.
Private Universities and the emerging Open Universities are critical in absorbing the thousands of applicants who are refused admission, though qualified, by traditional universities. The University of Ghana rejected 17,524 qualified students – representing almost 50 % of the 2015/16 academic year admissions – as a result of limited facilities.
Dr. Josiah Cobbah, Pro Vice Chancellor, said the Open University system of education should be supported in the country since it enhances the possibility for every student to gain access to tertiary level. “The whole idea is to ensure inclusiveness to tertiary education. So, we take out a lot of the pressure that you go through when you are in the competitive school environment. What is important for us is the support we need to succeed not the competition with other learners. So we do everything possible to support students through the process. I have been an educator for a long time and I can tell you that the best student is the one who do not compete with others but themselves. The philosophy of education is what enables you to face life to build up your own leadership to become an entrepreneur, to be an innovator, to be flexible and not to be hard on yourself and allow yourself to grow,” Dr. Cobbah said. Lectures at Laweh Open University College are mostly done online. Distance education is very much encouraged in order to make education and learning easier and affordable for students. The school also provides its students tablets with internet access which contains all the relevant course materials.
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