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GRASAG Legon Threatens Massive Demonstration   
 
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17-Oct-2011  
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The Executive Committee and members of the Graduate Students’ Association of Ghana (GRASAG), Legon branch, wish to bring to the notice of the general public the various steps we have taken to amicably resolve the impasse between GRASAG and the University of Ghana authorities with regards to academic facility user fees.

GRASAG is running out of patience and will not rule out a much fiercer demonstration if the university remains adamant to the plight of the students with regards to the subject of contention – unjustified fees increment. This is because all attempts to resolve the issues with the university authorities have not received the needed co-operation from the authorities.

It is important to recap the steps GRASAG has taken so far since the problem arose.

On July 8, 2011, GRASAG held a meeting with the authorities in which we raised legitimate issues over certain aspects of the fees. Below are some of the issues GRASAG raised:

1. Prior to the University going on recess, management issued a press release informing students that the Academic Facility User Fee (AFUF) would increase by only 10%. On the contrary the fees published by the university exceeded the 10% increment indicated by the initial release. We consider this as a total departure from the understanding we had earlier.

The University authorities explained that the Academic Facility User Fees formed only a component of the fees. We wonder why the authorities did not communicate the increment in some other components of the fees, which were as high as 100%.

2. M. Phil Second year students have been charged examination fee of GHC 100 when in reality most of them do not write any examination during their second year of study.

3. Some students within the science faculty such as Computational Nuclear Science and Engineering, Agric Economics, Agribusiness etc. are levied Laboratory Research fee of GHC500, when they actually do not undertake any laboratory test or work in the University.

4. Examination fees have been increased from GHC50 to GHC100. The explanation was that the university had invested in technology such as the close circuit television (CCTV). We consider this very unfortunate because technology such as CCTV should reduce the number of invigilators at examination centres and as a capital expenditure, the cost recovery should be spread over the years.
With a critical look at the breakdown of the component of the examination fee, we have realized that seventy percent (70%) of the charges is meant for refreshments and honorarium, when we expected a reduction in the number of invigilators.
Again, the number of students used as the basis of determining the figure was incorrect since post-graduate students were excluded.

5. Per the basis of determining an increase in the technology fee, the amount arrived at was GHC72. However, the fee schedule for payment by all students including post graduate students is GHC92.

6. The levy for health care was increased from GHC35 to GHC47. For us, the increment is not justified. This is because the University has encouraged students to enroll on the National Health Insurance Scheme, which some students pay through the University.

What this means is that such students are paying more than the NHIS levy, which amounts to charging students double insurance.
Following the above petition, GRASAG Executive met with the Vice-Chancellor on July 18th to deliberate on the issues raised. Unfortunately, nothing fruitful came out of that meeting because the university authorities were not in a position compromise on their stance. We again petitioned the university authorities to reconsider their decision but there was no reply.

After that GRASAG, together with the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the University, the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) and the University Students Association of Ghana (USAG), held a press conference on July 22nd and subsequently a demonstration on July 27th, after which we presented a petition to the Ministry of Education and the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education.

After the demonstration, the University invited us to a meeting and demanded another formal petition outlining our grievances. The university authorities went ahead to hold a press conference and informed the general public that they were open to dialogue and invited the students for that dialogue.

GRASAG responded swiftly by presenting a comprehensive petition to the authorities on August 1st. On August 2nd, we met the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE). At the said meeting GRASAG, USAG and the SRC signed a memorandum of understanding with the NCTE to suspend all demonstrations and resort to dialogue. GRASAG respected the role the NCTE played in the mediation process by suspending all subsequent demonstrations.

On August 8th, we were invited to a meeting by the University for dialogue but that did not take place. At the said meeting, we were only asked to speak to the petition and leave. There was nothing like dialogue whatsoever.

On August 9th, the university replied stating that the Business and Executive Committee of the Academic Board had met and decided that “the fee levels should remain as they are.”

GRASAG wrote back to the University demanding detailed explanation to specific legitimate issues raised in the petition. But up to now there has not been any response.

Because of the disregard for our concerns, we resolved that we would embark on a demonstration on October 19th. However, the University Council has authorized the Executive Committee to invite us for deliberations on October 17th. We hope that this meeting will address the various concerns we have raised.

We are by this release reminding the university authorities, all stakeholders and the general public that we are committed to resolving the issues amicably through dialogue and the needed diplomacy. It is for this reason that we have exercised restraint and have been committed to exhausting all the internal procedures for resolving the impasse.
However, if the authorities continue to remain adamant and not willing to reconsider their stance, we may have no option but to resort to whatever means appropriate and legitimate to drive home our demands.

(SIGNED)
RESTER TOGORMEY
(GRASAG PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF GHANA)
PHONE NUMBER: 0244292462

(CROSS SIGNED)
TSYAWO JOHNSON
(CHAIRMAN OF SENATE, GRASAG LEGON)
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 0244130864
 
 
 
 

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