Private Universities urged to stay relevant
Private Universities need to focus on relevance, agility and excellence to ensure that their institutions adapt and succeed in the educational sector, Professor Ato Essuman, Dean, School of Research and Graduate Studies and Professional development, Methodist University Ghana (MUG), has said.
Prof Essuman made the remark when he delivered a public lecture organised by the MUG on the topic, “Ghana’s Private Universities in Crises: Were They Founded as a Necessary Risk or a Public Relation Gimmick? Time to Rethink.”
The Dean said whether they were seeking solutions to global conflict, or developing their understanding of literature, they must be relevant and be willing to engage with society to show how that was the case.
He said Universities had traditionally been slow to respond to external influences; ‘slow but sure’ has often been the motive but the pace of externally driven change would surely only increase.
Prof Essuman said excellence in the development of knowledge and inspiration of learners was critical for all, such that Private Universities could not prosper if they were not good at what they do.
He said to survive in the education field, Private Universities must become more ‘business-like’, while at the same time focus on what they were good at and emphasise the very things that make them different.
Prof Essuman said few Private Tertiary Institutions pay attention to planning to enable leadership to give strategic direction to the institution.
“Out of 15 institutions sampled, only four had strategic plans which had not lapsed and only two out of the four whose plan had not lapsed, got serious with its implementation and monitoring,” he noted.
He said many acknowledged their importance but were demotivated by the inadequate resources to fund it.
According to him, the strategic plan helped the organisation to be proactive rather than reactive, instilled a shared sense of responsibility and increased operational efficiency among leadership.
The Dean said the lack of it presented chaos due to the ad hoc nature of decision-making and actions based only on leadership experience, discretion and indiscretion.
He said it was important for Private Universities to focus on soft skills in the curriculum and align their educational offerings with in-demand skills.
The Dean said the hard skills that were in demand change frequently in the rapidly changing world, but soft skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, negotiation skills, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills could prove to be invaluable in the eyes of employers.
Prof Essuman said thatuniversities must ensure that what they offered to students was relevant to the industry.