Executive Secretary of the National Accreditation Board (NAB), Mr Kwame Dattey, has urged private universities to consider introducing more distance programmes on their satellite campuses.
This, he said, would go a long way to help curb enrolment figures from the free senior high school (SHS) beneficiaries.
He said the reality was that the free SHS programme had placed more students in the SHS system, and that could mean that the numbers leaving the SHS would also witness an increase of students seeking opportunities for tertiary education.
Mr Dattey made the appeal at the Pentecost University College’s (PUC) ninth congregation for the second batch of graduands.
The event, on the theme “Free Senior High School National Agenda: The implications for private higher educational institutions”, witnessed the graduation 379 students from the Theology and Mission, Faculty of Engineering, Science and Computing as well as the Faculty of Business Administration.
Mr Dattey said the challenges private universities face are well-known, stating that with very limited resources they had to compete with well-established and resourced public universities that were now spreading their tentacles through satellite campuses and distance programmes across the country.
He said the challenges they faced in the light of the free SHS policy might, therefore, be predictable; as large numbers of qualified students might not be able to easily afford the relatively higher fees charged by private universities.
“It is time for private universities to institute policies that could help address these likely challenges; these policies should aim at giving students more affordable options in terms of their academic pursuits,” he added.
The Executive Secretary said distance education offered the attraction of relatively low tuition fees and absence of residential fees for students.
Mr Dattey again proposed that aside distance education being among factors for consideration, private universities should also consider providing scholarships to students.
He also urged private universities to work to enhance their overall competitiveness as well as engage government for more support.
He said private higher education institutions could benefit from the likely increase in numbers of SHS graduates seeking university education; however, they also had to act proactively to facilitate the smooth progression of students into their institutions.
Mr Dattey explained that this could be done through well thought through and planned policies and strategies.
He, therefore, challenged private universities to begin to work assiduously in that regard.
Apostle Dr Daniel Okyere Walker, PUC Rector, said there was the need for strong partnerships and collaborations among the various private universities to undertake infrastructural developments to match the needs of students.
“For instance joining resources to establish common state-of-the-art libraries, science laboratories, demonstration rooms, and ICT centres; such partnerships will relieve any one institution of the huge financial burden,” he added.
He said government must continue to put in place strategic measures to ensure the sustainability of the free SHS initiative without compromising on quality.
He urged the government to also begin working to deal with possible challenges at universities, especially the private ones, to boost enrolment of SHS graduates.
Dr Walker said to ensure PUC students pass through the university training successfully, and well equipped for the job market, PUC continuously seeks for experienced faculty and industry leaders to add to its already existing high calibre of the teaching staff.
The Rector, therefore, urged the graduands to have trust in the Lord and be innovative, ethical, hardworking and committed to their future endeavours.