The Council of Independent Universities (CIU) has formed a peer-review committee to lead a process that creates a centralised quality assurance system to appraise programmes and degrees to meet local and international standards.
The Council said the process would reassure the public about the quality of courses being offered by the private tertiary institutions and address the falling standards of education in the country.
Dr Osei Darkwa, the Chairman of the Council, said this at the annual CIU Day which saw about 35 member institutions gather to discuss matters of mutual interest.
The day, marked on the theme: “Private University as a Catalyst to Entrepreneurial Development,” was interspersed with an education fair for member universities to showcase their products, programmes and admission requirements to parents and prospective applicants.
“The establishment of a common quality assurance process across all the private universities will enable all the institutions to use common reference points,” Dr Darkwa said.
He recommended the establishment of a Pan-African quality assurance and accreditation framework to also enhance the process.
Dr Darkwa, who is also the President of Ghana Technology University, said the development, fuelled by falling education standards, reinforced “the need for private tertiary institutions to begin thinking about a common quality assurance framework.”
“As we know, there is a general public perception that educational quality is being compromised in an effort to expand enrolment. There is also growing complaints by employers that graduates are poorly prepared for the workplace and the terrain is becoming crowded as new private and transnational providers enter the scene,” he said.
Dr Darkwa said open and distance learning was on the rise making it possible to teach and learn from anywhere.
He said: “Virtual education is growing even within regular “brick and mortar” institutions, education has now become borderless making it possible for students in physically unconnected places to access global educational resources.”
A full scale quality assurance system, he said, was too expensive for a single institution to handle given the staff requirement and other resource implications.
“A more cost-effective option is for all the private tertiary institutions to pool resources together to establish a centralised and shared service quality assurance system that will have all the skill sets needed to address quality issues among individual institutions,” he said.
According to data from the National Accreditation Board, there were 69 registered private tertiary institutions, tutorial colleges, distance learning institutions, and chartered tertiary institutions in Ghana by close of 2015.
The National Council for Tertiary Education 2015 enrolment data shows that there are 295,118 Ghanaians enrolled in tertiary institutions in Ghana and out of that 64,112 are enrolled in private tertiary institutions.
This represents 28 per cent of the total student population of universities.
Dr Darkwa called for actions to strengthen private institutions through an initiative he referred to as networked university and private-public partnership in higher education.
“The networked university will be in a better position to negotiate with mentor institutions and educational stakeholders such as the National Accreditation Board, the National Council for Tertiary Education and the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETUND),” he said.
The cardinal basis for developing public-private partnerships in education is to maximise the potential for expanding equitable access to higher education and for improving education outcomes especially for marginalised groups, he said.