General News of 2014-08-18

Meridian Varsity shut down; 300 students in a fix

The fate of about 300 students of the Meridian University College (MUC) at Kasoa in the Central Region hangs in the balance following a decision by the management of the college to dissolve it.

The management of the college has cited low enrolment and financial challenges as the basis to dissolve the college, an action described by education all experts as unprecedented.

But some of the students are considering legal action against the management of the college to safeguard their academic interest.

The MUC is accredited by the National Accreditation Board (NAB) and affiliated to the University of Cape Coast (UCC), but both the regulatory body and the mentoring institution say they have not been officially informed about the dissolution of the college.

Currently, the college is on vacation but when the Daily Graphic visited the campus last Friday, some anxious students were holding a meeting to discuss the way forward.

Although the management has put in place some interim measures to deal with the situation, such as assisting continuing students to secure transfer to other nearby institutions, the students fear the implications of those measures on their academic pursuits could be dire, hence their contemplation of legal redress.

When the Daily Graphic visited the Kasoa campus of the MUC, there was no management official to clarify issues as all the administrative offices were closed.

Only one out of four mobile telephone numbers retrieved from the website of the NAB: www.nab.gov.gh, last Friday, which forms part of the address of the MUC, went through when the Daily Graphic called, but the receiver said he was not in a position to comment on the matter.

However, a ‘Special Notice’ posted by the management of the MUC on the college’s notice board, under the signature of Joseph Kwesi Odom and dated July 11, 2014, appears unambiguous.

It reads in part: “Students are hereby informed that it has become necessary for the chancellor to dissolve the college due to low patronage resulting in low enrolment; inability of the college to raise funds to support the chancellor and the precarious current financial position of the chancellor.”

In the interim, the notice states, management has decided to organise a resit for graduating students (Level 400 Upper) from August 25, 2014 to September 5, 2014, adding that students due for resit are to register by August 22, 2014.

The notice further indicates that a seven-week sandwich programme will be organised for levels 100 Lower, 300 Lower and 400 Lower students to complete the academic year.

The sandwich programme is scheduled to start from August 25, 2014 to October 3, 2014, with the end-of-semester examination scheduled to start from October 6, 2014 to October 10, 2014.

“Students shall be required to pay the full semester fee of GH¢1,250 before the programme begins. There will be no concession for any student who fails to pay the fee,” the notice states.

In another notice addressed to the public, the management says, “admission of students for the 2014/2015 academic year has been suspended indefinitely."

The students do not seem to be clear on many issues, but they claim telephone calls made to the chancellor, management staff and lecturers to seek clarification on same have all hit dead ends.

The students are, for instance, questioning the payment of full semester fees of Ghc1,250 under the circumstances as captured in the ‘Special Notice’.

They are also concerned about the likelihood of paying higher fees in institutions where they may be transferred to, as their enquiries at those institutions have revealed.

Furthermore, they are not certain about the level on which they may be placed at the other institutions upon their transfer.

The Daily Graphic learnt a management meeting has been scheduled to take place on the campus today, and the students are eager to be present to demand answers to the nagging issues.

When contacted on telephone, the Deputy Registrar of the UCC responsible for Institutional Affiliation, Dr Sena Kpeglo, and the Executive Director of the NAB, Mr Kwame Dattey, said the MUC had not officially informed their institutions about its dissolution.

They said if their institutions had been informed officially, they would have helped the MUC to handle the situation properly.

Dr Kpeglo said a consultant of the MUC had discussed the matter with her unofficially, and she had advised the college to write officially to the UCC, so that the two institutions could discuss the way forward, but that was not done.

Dr Kpeglo explained that as the mentoring institution, the UCC was only responsible for ensuring the academic integrity of the college, such as meeting basic admission requirements and academic standards.

She said the UCC was not responsible for the administrative functions of the MUC, adding that it was the responsibility of the college management to attract high enrolment and secure the financial wherewithal to run the institution.

For his part, Mr Dattey said it was the first time an accredited tertiary institution was being dissolved, and so there was no precedence to follow in terms of handling the situation.

He said under the circumstances, the NAB was primarily concerned about the students, adding that if the MUC management had informed the board about the dissolution, it could have assisted in finding the best way out.

Responding to a question on how the NAB ascertained the financial strength of tertiary institutions before granting them accreditation, Mr Dattey said applicant institutions were required to submit a financial sustainability plan as part of the conditions for accreditation.

He said the financial sustainability plan was analysed by financial experts, pointing out that the MUC case had come after it had secured accreditation.

Source: graphic.com.gh
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