Presidential regulate of university councils is a recipe for chaos

In most international locations, the appointment of a female vice-chancellor at its most prestigious college is usually a instant of celebration as a different milestone on the street to gender equality is passed.

The arrival of Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo to the helm of the University of Ghana this month feels somewhat diverse. That is no slight on my new manager, who is hugely experienced and will doubtless prove a well-known and able chief. Additionally, when only 8 per cent of Ghana’s professors are women – and male learners outnumber woman learners by almost two to a single – her elevation to v-c, albeit in an acting ability, remains a significant landmark for our academy. Beforehand, only two girls have risen to the rank of pro v-c, herself and Florence Dolphyne.

As an alternative, my views transform to the upcoming stage in attempts to obtain a long-lasting leader. Since 2004, my college has taken edge of Ghana’s structure, passed in 1992, which prohibited the president from possibly serving as chancellor or right appointing one particular. Alternatively, a chancellor will have to be picked by the college council. In transform, the chancellor can also select a council chair whose panel will appoint a vice-chancellor.

These to some degree circular governance arrangements ended up not perfect but they mostly taken out political patronage and cronyism from management selections – in contrast to countries like Turkey where by college rectors are now routinely handpicked by its president, even if their tutorial credentials are not usually persuasive.

However, laws passed in 2010 taken out this critical safeguard of tutorial freedom in Ghana. The energy to appoint the council chair was taken away from the chancellor and the academic board, and put in the palms of the president. This rearrangement is based mostly on the flawed claim that a college council is the identical as the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission. As a result, all community universities have adopted the exact same approach.

But a college regulator and a college are two very separate and unique entities with various people and functions. At a specialized amount, the fee is a public system answerable to ministers, even though a college council is not – or need to not be, at minimum.

College councils are now regarded as as general public boards or corporations. Dependent on the provisions of the 2012 Presidential (Transition) Act, all boards and businesses (which include college councils) ceased to exist from January when the president was sworn into workplace following his re-election.

Just before then, the tenure of some govt appointees on the council and period of some college councils had expired and the federal government prolonged their lifespans. However, no new extensions ended up issued when the most up-to-date 1 expired in May 2021, and the community universities were being remaining in limbo for months, subject to arbitrary rule by some college directors whose steps could not be checked by non-existent university boards.

This chaotic arrangement did very little to aid the search for a new long lasting vice-chancellor for my institution. While the executive look for for a vice-chancellor began in December, a lawsuit was also submitted to Accra’s large court demanding the mandate of the steering committee, proclaiming that some customers of the search panel have been representatives of the former council and, as their expression has expired, their existence on the committee was illegal.

The appointment of the new university council chair Sophia Akuffo – who skilled as a lawyer less than Ghana’s present president Nana Akufo-Addo – and the generation of a new university council may well indicate a new start, but it will not reassure students that academia can continue to be above partisan nationwide politics.

It was to keep away from such a quagmire that individuals who framed Ghana’s structure, in their knowledge, developed a method wherever a president is allowed to exchange a minimal variety of college council customers only right after the expiration of his or her term or when a new governing administration arrives to energy, alternatively than reconstituting the complete board from scratch.

This way, rampant interference and intermittent disruption of university function through the termination of their university councils would not arise and governing councils will keep on their functions uninterrupted.

As an alternative, I fear political tinkering will dictate how my university and Ghana’s higher training establishments much more normally will be run. The universities need to not be held to ransom in this way by the powers that be.

Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua is associate professor at the University of Legislation at the University of Ghana.