Former Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University of Ghana, Prof Ernest Aryeetey has mounted a strong defense against the passage of the Public Universities Bill into law.
According to Prof Aryeetey, the bill if passed in its current form, will grant the Ministry of Education overreaching powers to interfere in activities of universities across the country.
The bill, currently before parliament pending approval has triggered reactions from a cross-section of the public, stakeholders and university authorities alike.
Some of the stakeholders have contended that the bill will take away academic freedom and the autonomy of public universities under the guise of harmonising activities.
Speaking on JoyNews‘ PM Express May 6, Prof Aryeetey posited that some basis for the establishment of the new law such as the streamlining of culture and reduction of financial impropriety in these higher learning institutions are flawed.
When quizzed by host Evans Mensah on whether the development could make Vice-Chancellors puppets in the hands of politicians, the former VC responded, “precisely.”
“They [Universities’ Councils] know what is good for the university that’s why they are there. They bring their knowledge… to the council and are able to show the university how best to chart particular courses… As soon as you lift that council and a political organ that responds largely to what the Minister for Education wants, you’ve taken away an essential character of the university. You have turned it into a political thing managed by the Minister,” he said.
He further explained that: “this law will only make only the Minister of Education more powerful. It will turn him into the senior Vice-Chancellor of the country.”
He also called on Vice-Chancellors across the country to present a united front to oppose passage of the bill into law.
“That’s what I will strongly suggest to them. This cannot be good for university education in Ghana. This is going to leave us with a university system where there is no competition” he explained.
Prof Ernest Aryeetey also entreated Members of Parliament to vote against the bill.
He wants MPs to assess individual existing Acts establishing universities across the country.
The Former VC said tailored solutions must be provided other than a new law that overrides the entire independence on which universities were established.