Ghana polytechnics to become universities

Dr. AfetiThe nation’s Polytechnics will have to re-engineer themselves to become technical universities, the Technical Committee on the Conversion of Polytechnics in Ghana to Technical Universities report has stated.

According to the report, this would entail the polytechnics emphasising staff development programmes to raise staff qualifications to university levels and developing capacity for curriculum engineering, management of internships, quality assurance, applied research and technology inter-change with industry.

It also recommends that it was important for the polytechnics to remain focused on career-focused programmes and not fall into the academic drift “trap” of offering traditional university programmes.

Dr George Afeti, Chairman of the Technical Committee on the Conversion of Polytechnics in Ghana to Technical Universities presented the report at a forum on Tuesday in Accra on theme: Repositioning Technical Education as a Driver of Economic Transformation and National Development”.

The report recommends that the effective start date for converting the Polytechnics to Technical Universities should be September, 2016 to allow for sufficient time to undertake due diligence on the current status of the polytechnics.

This should include careful evaluation of their current academic standing and future study programmes and funding needs so as to ensure that the conversion process is successful.

It further recommended that for a polytechnic to be granted technical university status it should be offering a minimum of four Bachelor of Technology degree programmes in science and technology based disciplines.

It noted that any academic department seeking programme accreditation in the technical universities should be headed by at least a Senior Lecturer with a PhD and, preferably, with some industrial experience.

In addition, the department must have at least three full-time lecturers with relevant research master’s degrees, at least one of whom must have industrial or work place experience.

In this regard, it should be required of the converted polytechnics as technical universities to provide evidence of training and partnership agreements or MOUs signed with collaborating industry partners.

It cautioned that the Technical Universities should not mimic the Traditional Universities, declaring that they should carve a niche for themselves as vocational-oriented, career-focused higher education institutions producing highly-skilled personnel to support economic growth and national development.

The report said the technical universities should be seen as mainly technological institutions imparting employable and entrepreneurial skills to their students while actively engaged in applied research and delivery of technology solutions to businesses and industry.

It said the criteria for appointment of lecturers and professors of the technical universities should include professional or industrial experience, adding, the requirements for promotion of technical university teachers should be differentiated from those of traditional universities.

It stated that the conversion of the polytechnics should be strategically implemented with the requirement that a polytechnic seeking a change in status to technical university should satisfy agreed eligibility criteria and conditions.

It said the Ministry of Education (MOE) should ensure that funding allocations to the converted polytechnics were commensurate with their status as Technical Universities.

The report urged the MOE to initiate action to review the Polytechnics Act to reflect the change in status to Technical Universities.

It said the technical universities should adopt the model of the Universities of Applied Sciences in Germany.

The report said government should explore the possibility of having experienced professors seconded or recruited from universities in Ghana and abroad to support the new technical universities during their formative years.

It noted that government should make financial provision for a targeted staff development programme for the polytechnics in preparation for their conversion to technical universities.

It added that the MOE should constitute an Expert Implementation Panel to advise on the eligibility of each polytechnic for conversion to technical university as well as provide technical expertise and support to the institutions during the transition period.

The report recommended that the MOE must take steps to quickly sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the German Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dient (DAAD) to bring into full effect the content of the letter of intent signed with DAAD in April 2014.

Source: GNA

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