Public universities in the country is expected to appear before the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education by close of the August, 2017, following revelations of exorbitant fees charged by the school authorities without due approval by parliament.
Before the Committee on Education, the authorities of public tertiary institutions will have to furnish members of parliament the reasons behind the current increment of academic fees and also provide detail information on how funds generated through the sale of academic forms are used.
Speaking to this paper, the Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education and Member of Parliament for Jaman North Constituency in the Brong Ahafo Region, Siaka Stevens, expressed worry over the monopolistic way some of these public tertiary institutions conduct their operations without resorting to the law.
He said it is unthinkable for some of these institutions to place on sale about 50,000 academic forms only to end up admitting less than 2,000 applicants, and questioned the whereabouts of the fate of those who failed to get admitted.
“I know a certain university which sold about 50,000 forms and later ended up admitting less than 2,000 students and so where are the rest? What did they do with the money? Are we doing business with education or it’s the welfare of the students that we are seeking? Why don’t we have a system that makes it possible for a form purchased from one institution could serve other institutions rather than spending a whopping sum of money on several admission forms? Parliament has rules covering the activities and operations of all public institutions in the country, especially when it comes to the mobilization and use of revenue,” he said.
The country’s public tertiary institutions have been accused of charging high academic fees which are illegal.
The Chairman of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee of Parliament, Mr. Mahama Ayariga, who made this revelation, has also threatened to go to court to compel public universities, polytechnics and nursing training colleges to legalize their school fees.
According to legislator, the current fees charged by the public tertiary institutions were illegal since they had not been approved by Parliament in compliance with the Fees and Charges Act and stressed that the Fees and Charges Act 2009 (Act 793) had not been followed by heads of tertiary institutions who had resorted to fixing fees and other levies without recourse to the law.
Meanwhile, the University Students Association of Ghana (USAG) has also called on all students of public tertiary institutions not to pay their recently increased fees for the 2017/2018 academic year until Parliament approves the increase.
The president of the association, Emmanuel Kwarteng Frimpong, who described the current fees as too exorbitant, stated that the association has received numerous petitions from students over the increment in fees, hence the group’s demand for the breakdown of fees so each student would know what services they are paying for.
But the Jaman North MP could not fathom why these public universities are taking the law into their own hand to increase their fees since government subventions to these institutions have been made available to them.
“We don’t know the reasons why they have come out with these high fees and so we need to meet with them, together with the media, to find out from them. But the truth is all government subventions have been sent to them, because all public universities are paid by the government, it’s not internally generated funds that are used to pay them. no, and even if a university wants to generate its own income internally, why won’t that institution come to parliament to seek approval?” He quizzed.
The Select Committee on Education chairman stated that with the unilateral decision taken by state tertiary institutions to increase their academic fee without parliament’s approval suggests that they want to be seen as an autonomous body whose academic operations are not affected by the laws of Ghana, and stressed that it’s against the laws of the country and for that matter the need to haul them before parliament for further interrogations.
The legislator lauded the chairman of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee of Parliament, Mr. Mahama Ayariga, for raising the issue and promised to follow through to the end of the matter to ensure that tertiary education in the country becomes affordable to everyone.