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General News Mon, 22 Oct 2001

University admission for sale....

...Medical students pay 14.5 m cedis a year


About fifteen Ghanaian students are paying a whopping ?14.5 million each per annum to read medicine at the University of Ghana (UG), Legon. According to Benjamin Ampomah-Boaten, President of the Students Representative Council (SRC), 15 Ghanaians are offering sciences at the University at a cost of ?8.7 million per annum towards academic user fees.


Ampomah-Boaten was reacting to a front page story published in Weekend Agenda last week which claimed that some privileged Ghanaians who scored higher than the university's ceiling of 16 in the Senior Secondary School Examination were paying their way to education by being sold placement allocations reserved for foreign students.


He said 180 students who are paying ?5.1 million have snapped up 180 places in the humanities.


This revelation comes in the wake of the controversial Ministry of Health decision to withhold certificates of graduates of the University of Ghana Medical School, as a means of checking the exodus of newly qualified Ghanaians doctors.


So far, the authorities at Legon, including outspoken Vice-Chancellor, Ivan Addae-Mensah have shied away from discussing the 'Admission For Sale' issue on public platform. Public Agenda learned that Radio Univers, the popular campus radio station's invitation to the V-C or his representative for a radio discussion on the issue has still not been answered nearly 10 days after the invitation was extended.

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Meanwhile, the student leadership on campus are threatening to embark on a protest match if authorities fail to review the obnoxious policy of selling admission to rich students.


"We should have gone on demonstration by now but for the promise by the President Kufuor to look at it and the Students Representative Council week celebrations", he hinted.


In an interview with the Public Agenda, The SRC President said, the students' body informed President Kufuor about the issue when the national student leadership met the President at a meeting at the Castle weeks ago.


According to Amponsa-According to Amponsa-Boaten, the President assured the student leaders that his government was going to consider the issue and subsequently inform them about its decision on the matter. But the President is yet to respond.


"We would definitely get back to him for his reaction. I must, however, add that we will advice ourselves if nothing concrete comes from the President," he cautioned.


The Students Representative Council held a forum on the matter immediately the story broke. The student body rejected the action of the university administration.

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At a recently held University Council Meeting, Prof. Addae-Mensah presented the issue to the Council for ratification, Ampoma-Boaten said. "This is very distasteful, in that such a major decision needs to be discussed at the Council Meeting before it could be implemented," he charged.


The SRC President said if the University authorities are not checked, the country could expect a worse situation next academic year.


He dismissed figures released by UG Registry that a total of only 205 places were offered through the "admission for sale" procedure.


"Our investigations show that between 300 and 350 places were offered to such students," Amponsa-Boaten said.


Students who gained admission through the "admission for sale" programme signed an undertaking reminding them that schools fees, as they paid, are subject to periodic reviews. These students are also not entitled to residential accommodation.


Other students Public Agenda reached for comment were unanimous in their condemnation of the programme.

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The University administration is implementing such diseased programmes because previous governments and the Kufuor administration are preoccupied with only fixing the national economy, a student reasoned.


"How can this be done here in Ghana? That a group pays less whiles another pays higher even though we are all Ghanaians" a student, Gyau Baffour asked.


Baffour expressed fear that if this is allowed to continue only the rich in the society can get university education. "All stakeholders must rise up and make sure this is dealt with once and for all. Why are the University authorities hiding? They owe the public an explanation. It looks as if the University authorities think they can do whatever they want and get away with it," said Baffour.


"Something needs to be done about this, if not tomorrow our younger brothers and sisters would pass all right but cannot come here due to the inability of our parents to pay," he summed up.


Another student, Samuel Agyemang of the University was more blunt.


"This is very bad. It is absolutely horrible. Disgusting, precisely because thousands of potential students are turned away every academic year by the University simply because they are poor," Agyemang said.

"If people who call themselves professors could conduct themselves this way, then God save university education in Ghana," another student who spoke on condition of anonymity said.


He agrees that government support to the country's universities is dwindling but charged that Legon administration is deliberately creating a class system in the country. The university administration told Weekend Agenda two weeks ago that the programme was instituted to raise more money to run the institution.

Source: Public Agenda