LEGON, Accra – Ernest Aryeetey, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana (UG), took a bold stand on his university’s future and initiated reforms towards more international education.
“Internationalization is vital to the achievement of the University of Ghana’s strategic vision of becoming a world-class research-intensive University within the next decade,” the school’s website states.
International universities produce alumni with global perspectives. Studying with students from other countries promotes cross-cultural fertilization of ideas. Likewise, international education can enhance faculty research.
Among Aryeetey’s plans have been the construction of branch campuses, the introduction of cross broader collaborative arrangements, the revamping of social programs for international students and the establishment of English medium programs and degrees to attract students from other countries.
But not everyone agrees with Aryeetey’s plan to internationalize the university, claiming that cost and time will greatly inhibit progress. International education in Ghana is still a new and unfamiliar practice.
“Without reform, without any intention to become more relevant, [universities]probably could not survive,” Aryeetey told SciDev.Net.
As competition rises in markets, universities must adapt and improve to continue to offer students the best possible education. If a university is unable to match the competition, students will attend other schools.
To achieve its goals, UG partnered with other universities in order to compile funds and attract qualified instructors to the institution. Brown University in Providence, RI, is helping UG recruit more health care students and improve training. HIV/AIDS is a widespread problem in Ghana, but because of low pay, poor working conditions, no career development and a medicine shortage, the health care profession is in short supply.
Brown University provides mentoring, training, research grants and exchanges. As the health care profession grows, so will employment opportunities. In addition, $5 million has been put toward refurbished laboratories and modern scientific equipment.
In a June radio interview with university students, Aryeetey said that “very soon students from the university will be sponsored outside to other world-class universities on an exchange program.”
Already, Aryeetey reports positive results generated by international education in Ghana. By internationalizing the university, 65 percent of professors at UG now have doctorate degrees, as opposed to 45 percent in previous years. Three-year programs have become four-year programs, allowing students to study their chosen fields in greater depth.
Four centers of excellence have been established at the university, each having been allocated seed money to develop research areas in climate change adaptation, malaria research, food production and processing and development policy and poverty monitoring and evaluation to address key developmental issues in Ghana and beyond.
E-learning is gaining popularity at UG, and rural young adults now have access to education without traveling too far. UG has also formed an agreement with General Electric to offer a $100,000 scholarship for 100 “needy but brilliant” students, according to a report from the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.
Clearly something Aryeetey is doing is right. The Times Higher education world rankings named the university as the best ranked university in Ghana and the 12th in Africa.