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A University of Ghana PhD hiring ad examined

Sat, 24 Oct 2020 Source: Isaac Ato Mensah

“The Department of Communication Studies of the University of Ghana invites applications from suitably qualified candidates for appointment as Lecturer in Multimedia Journalism; Quantitative Research Methods in Communication Studies; Public and Policy Communication.”

So reads the first line of an advertisement available at timeshighereducation.com.

The vacancy was announced on 1 October; it will expire on 30 November.

Now to perform these routine tasks, the University of Ghana (UG) is asking for a PhD.

“The successful applicant for the quantitative research methods in communication studies position” should be able to teach “multi-level analysis”, arguably the most sophisticated task in the advertisement.

This “multi-level analysis”, meanwhile, is available on YouTube, being taught by many people freely, some without a PhD.

“Faculty for public and policy communication will be expected to demonstrate a good understanding of the centrality of communication in policy formulation and implementation within the civil and public services and be familiar with the processes (both formal and informal) involved in global, regional and national policy making. Practical experience in policy communication will be a plus,” the advertisement reads further.

And the “successful applicants for multimedia journalism should be grounded in the workings of “converged newsrooms serving multimedia platforms”.

So what does UG really want?

And all these happening at a time when many forward looking global organizations have announced that they will no longer state academic qualification in their future job offers.

A university in the UK, for example, that is better recognized internationally for quality of teaching and learning, as well as employability of graduates, does not list academic qualification in its teaching appointment offers.

Stephen Bungay, the renowned scholar, writer and thinker for the UK armed forces once wrote that in strategic organizational communication, when one is feeling hot in a boardroom meeting, for example, it is better to suggest to your team whether the room is not too hot so that the team members may come up with more innovative solutions, rather than ordering them to turn on the AC.

There may be more innovative ways of solving the problem; there may be a sound reason the AC is turned off, etcetera, etcetera.

Returning to the UG ad, what is the salary of a PhD holder for this advertised position?

Further perusal of the ad does not reveal any solid record of professional achievement the successful candidates must have, coming into the job.

A “too known”/ “kokonsa” probing of the output of the current faculty at the Department of Communication Studies at UG has not yielded any result that suggests that they are actively practising in the area of the vacancies announced.

If, therefore, the UG seeks to augment its faculty, then that is a good thing.

The penchant for requiring PhDs prevents the UG from leapfrogging technologies and the state-of-the-art pedagogical tools in delivering graduates for the nation.

In the case of the department in question, this is where

a significant number of the editors in the media and “astute PR gurus”, etcetera, are trained.

This is therefore a matter that should concern all of us.

The ad appears on timeshighereducation.com,

and should reflect international best practice.

After all said and done, if industry is performing better tasks without PhDs, why look for PhDs to perform the same tasks – and even pay them less?

“The theory and the practice cannot be divorced from each other,” my mentor all over again.

Now for the thoroughly ghanaian question with no bearing on the quality of the analysis in the article, “Does the writer have a PhD?” Go figure!

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Writers and Shakespeares Ghana Limited exist to be a moral and intellectual guide to the best practice of PR and integrated communications around the world, beginning with Ghana.

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah