The quality of higher education can be achieved by managing the quality of input, processes, output and outcomes, Professor Goski Bortiorkor Alabi, Dean, Centre for International Education and Collaboration, University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) has said.
She said managing the four dimension of quality of higher education namely relevance, recognition, functionality and comparability was essential in ensuring quality higher education.
Prof Alabi made the observation at her inaugural lecture as a full professor on the topic: “Quality of Higher Education in Ghana: The Key Issues,” in Accra.
Thus Prof Alabi is a full professor in Quality Management and Leadership.
She is an academic, a consultant and an accomplished entrepreneur with more than 15 years of professional experience in academia, consultancy, regulation, advocacy and business.
The inaugural lecture was the first ever to be organised by the UPSA.
Some key issues she raised with regard to quality of higher education in the country included the quality of the academic staff, suggesting that the assumption that once one had a doctorate or a research master’s one could teach in the university was misguided.
She said unlike secondary and primary levels, teaching competences were recognised and even formed the basis of differentiated salaries and so the National Accreditation Board (NAB) and the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) need to reconsider the requirements for becoming a lecturer and include teaching competences and skills.
“Another issue with the quality of academic staff is the fact that as a country, we frown on experience, to the extent that we glorify fresh doctorate without any experience over Masters with extensive field experience and professional qualification.
“It is therefore, critical for Ghana to make work experience learning (internships) a compulsory component of higher education for both student and academic staff,” she stated.
Secondly, treating the quality of process in universities, she said the system of education simply trapped students and lecturers from growing beyond their current reality, because it did not generate the needed creative thinking, problem solving skills and productive work attitudes needed to promote and support sustainable development.
Prof Alabi said another issue with the process of quality was the lack of programmatic benchmark for certain disciplines.
“Programmatic benchmarks spell out clearly the expected learning outcomes, which should inform instructional design, content, teaching, and learning resources needed, and assessment strategies.
As such, without programmatic benchmarks, quality may not be achieved.”
She added that should programmatic benchmarks be ready for all disciplines in the country, academic staff would require training, retooling and monitoring to ensure that such benchmarks could be effectively deployed.
She said quality of output had to do with how higher institutions ensure that the graduates they produce, met the standards.
She charged the NAB to expedite the process of initiating programmatic benchmarks which is still in process.
Touching on the quality of outcome Prof Alabi, said it had to do with what feedback was received from employees, labour market or industry and how it was used to inform the content of academic programmes.
She said although tracer studies were key mechanisms for addressing the issue of outcome, they were studies is still infantile and adhoc in Ghana.
“There is therefore the need to get tracer studies entrenched in the country, and should be part of the quality indicators that NCTE needs to develop for the annual reporting of higher institutions in the country.
“A good set of such indicators can be found in the Multitrank Evaluations criteria,” she said.
Prof Alabi urged the NAB, NCTE and other relevant educational bodies to ensure the relevance, recognition, functionality and comparability of higher education in the country.
She said the NAB needed a paradigm shift from the largely input based approach and incorporate strong mechanisms for process, output and outcome-based approaches.
She said that there was a need for quality assurance framework for higher education and recommended that the NAB revisited and adopted the work that was done by the quality working group under the CODERSIA Project of which they and the NCTE were part.
Speaking on affiliation, Prof Alabi said it was another key issue that needed to be reconsidered in Ghana’s accreditation system.
“Private universities have complained that the affiliation system that is practiced in the country is not effective and have observed that affiliation stifles innovation and is too expensive,” she said.
Prof Alabi said vice-chancellors of the nation had the responsibility to uphold, defend, and protect the values of academic freedom, autonomy and service.
She said universities in the country had issues with resources and so they struggle to generate income internally to support quality.
She said government was however attempting to take 30 per cent of the Internally Generated Funds.
She explained that: “Should this happen, the burden to maintain standards will either be pushed on to students or quality will further be affected.”
“Such government interferences are not healthy, and can undermine quality.”
She pointed out that university leaders needed to develop educational systems to break the walls of the colonialist jail of education.
Drolor Bosso Adamtey I, Chancellor, UPSA, said the UPSA would continue to provide and promote quality high education, academic and professional education in business and other social related disciplines by leveraging its unique mantra of professionalism.
“It is in this regard, that we place much priority on this maiden inaugural lecture.
“As we may be aware, lectures like this stand to form the bedrock for influencing policy decisions,” he said.
“Today we have gathered here to celebrate the achievement of one of our own on attaining the enviable rank of full professorship which is marked by this inaugural lecture, one that is historic indeed because she is the first full time professor of the university.”