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Place Emphasis On Open University System To Enhance Access To Education

A former vice chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Professor Joshua Alabi, has urged policy makers in education to place emphasis on open university system as a measure to enhance access to tertiary education.

A former vice chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Professor Joshua Alabi, has urged policy makers in education to place emphasis on open university system as a measure to enhance access to tertiary education.

He said the current traditional means of admitting students based on a high-profile grading system denied many of them the opportunity to access higher education.

“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,” he stated.

Prof. Alabi was speaking at the inauguration of the Governing Council of the Laweh Open University College (LOUC) in Accra on Thursday.

The 11-member board is chaired by Dr Kingsley Fletcher, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fletcher International Services, a business entity based in the United States (US).

The board has the arduous task of creating an enabling environment that will place LOUC as the preferred centre of excellence for open university education in Ghana.

An open university operates in a virtual environment with minimal face-to-face interaction between lecturers and students.

At LOUC, 80 per cent of the teaching and learning process is done online to make it accessible to all students.

Professor Alabi observed that a robust open university system, coupled with a competitive private sector involvement, was key to removing the barriers created by the lack of capacity and space in the traditional institutions.

“The gross enrolment ratio in Ghana, which is defined by the number of students who get access to tertiary education, is as low as 12 per cent, as compared with 70 per cent in developed countries,” he stated.

To reverse the trend, Prof. Alabi said emphasis must be placed on online courses and distance education and added that it was important for policy makers to take a second look at the entry requirement to tertiary institutions.

The General Secretary of the Association of African Universities (AAU), Prof. Etiene Ehuan Ehile, also observed that an open university system was necessary in reducing the pressure on the existing public universities.

He said there was so much pressure on public universities in terms of infrastructure and enrolment and stressed that the situation could compromise quality of graduates if other alternatives of accessing higher education were not adopted.

Prof. Ehile further urged universities in the country to redesign their curricula and teaching methodologies to meet the demands of the changing times.

“Programmes and innovations that will add value to students and make them relevant to the demand of industry must be vigorously pursued,” he said.

On behalf of the Governing Council, Dr Fletcher gave an assurance that the team would work tirelessly to build a robust regime for open university education in the country.

He said the team would also engage with all stakeholders in education, especially regulators such as the National Accreditation Board (NAB) and the Ministry of Education (MoE), to ensure that quality was maintained.

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