Minister Challenges African Universities To Enhance Quality Of Research

Minister in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah has challenged universities in Africa to invest more of their resources to enhance the quality of the research they undertake in attracting more international students into the sub-region.

He said Africa has the largest student mobility profile in the world due to the perception of low academic standards in Africa, hence there was the need for universities to work hard to balance the situation.

Professor Yankah noted that only few African universities are ranked on global rankings, and advised that for African universities to be more competitive, they have to first prepare their local rankings using their own criteria and set of values.

This, he explained, would help the universities revise their notes and know where they ought to be ranked locally as a way to provide room for growth.

He lamented that whereas majority of African students migrate to Europe and the Americas for their first degrees, master’s and doctorate degrees, students from these same countries come to Africa for either a summer short course or research project due to outdated academic curricular and lack of infrastructure.

He said the perception of low academic standards in Africa slowed down academic migration from South to North, and put African scholars and students under unnecessary suspicion when credentials were presented elsewhere.

Prof Yankah also said there was the need to harmonise the educational standards in the sub-region to ensure transparency in curriculum development, including teaching and learning, the duration of courses, credit accumulation and recognition of experiential learning.

He, however, noted that the foremost challenges facing higher education in West Africa include gender and cultural disparities, the mismatch between skills and industry requirements, diverse admission criteria, poor recognition of African qualifications externally and the absence of credit transfer arrangements (locally, regionally and internationally).

Speaking at a stakeholder seminar in Ghana, organised by Bradford University in Accra yesterday, he indicated that government is now emphasizing more on collaboration with international universities than depending on them in order to adopt best practices.

Professor Brian Cantor, a technological expert and Vice-Chancellor of Bradford University, in his brief remarks, said the university is looking forward to promote partnership in different parts of the world, with Ghana being the first stop.

He emphasised how universities influence economic development, and argued that the great increase of universities worldwide has led to an increase in the number of people who possess disposable income.

Professor Cantor stated that economic success depends on the generation and exploitation of knowledge, and countries are competing to build universities to drive their economies.

He used the University of Bradford as an example of an institution that embraces technology and uses knowledge to improve societies.
Last year, Cantor launched The World Technology University Network (WTUN) in an attempt to promote his vision, with Bradford being the founding member.

He explained that the network welcomes all universities seeking to make a difference in the world, and encouraged exchanges between member universities and support collaborative research to link great technology universities to help people worldwide.

The WTUN, he disclosed, aims to work with at least 30 member universities across the world within the next few years, expressing his keen interest for universities in Ghana to join.