Former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast Prof. George Oduro is accusing the government of attempts to fill Public University Councils with party members.
He says the proposed Public Universities Bill will only afford the government an opportunity to plant their members among the Council.
Speaking on Joy FM’s NewsFile, he said the idea of a new bill should be immediately thrown out as it will not be of importance to the universities.
“Directly the President will appoint five members including the Chairman making it six, then the Ghana Education Service will also appoint one person then the Ghana Tertiary Education Committee will also appoint one person making it eight. Which implies that the government has eight-person on the board. When we talk about government representation in Ghana we are not talking about experts, we are talking about political party representation. So in effect what the bill seeks to promote is to dominate Councils with partisan interest and it will undermine the basic principles of setting up a council”.
The executive is facing pressure to withdraw the bill even before it hits the legislative arm of government for consideration.
This new bill, according to the Minister of Education, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, “is to provide the procedure for the establishment of Public Universities, principles of management of Public universities, the legal status of Public universities, the procedure for financing Public universities and administration and supervision of the activities of Public universities and related matters.”
However, its proposition and possible enactment into law has riled up academia and other civil society groups in the country.
For many in the University community, the proposed bill if passed will be an affront to academic freedom and leave the Universities to the manipulation of politicians.
One of the main fundamentals of the proposed bill is the setting up of University councils to oversee the activities and operation of the universities.
Currently, the composition of the council is primarily done by mechanisms instituted by the public Universities themselves, however, this new bill will leave the composition to the president of Ghana.
It will change the structure of the governing councils of public universities with the majority of members being appointed by the President.
It will be a deviation from the norm, where the university members are normally in the majority.
Under section 5 of the bill, it states that the president shall nominate a chairperson of the council as well as 5 other persons with which two will be women.
By this provision, many of the critics of the bill believe the positions will be stacked with people affiliated with a particular political party instead deserving and qualified persons.
Futhermore, the president has the power to dissolve the university council.