Ghana’s public universities are facing a boom in applications, but do not have sufficient facilities to meet growing demand that has been exacerbated by an influx of students from neighbouring countries and a double cohort leaving school this year.
As a result, admission to universities is no longer based on obtaining the required grades – some qualified candidates have been turned down or made to sit additional selection tests.
The situation has been compounded by students from neighbouring countries – especially Nigeria – competing with Ghanaians for admission. Nigerians have been seeking out Ghanaian institutions because of the frequent strikes that have bedevilled their public university campuses.
“Over the past four months, Nigerian universities have been on strike and students have been forced to stay at home so it is better for some of us to look elsewhere to educate our children,” a Nigerian parent, Folu Agbeniran, told University World News in Accra.
Agbeniran said he had spent a month in Ghana looking at institutions that could admit his child as a first-year political science student.
“It is expensive to send your child to universities in Europe because even if you have the money, the visa regime has become very complicated so it is only logical to turn to a neighbouring country where everything is working,” he said.
Local students have become frustrated as institutions put in place competitive procedures to select qualified applicants. This year the University of Ghana rejected 39,645 qualified applicants who wanted to pursue undergraduate or graduate programmes in the 2013-14 academic year.
The vice-chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, said the situation was worse this year because there were two groups of students that sat the West African Senior School Certificate Examination in May-June 2013. This was due to the shortening of the four-year senior high school course to three years.
Aryeetey said about 37,507 undergraduates and 2,138 graduates were denied admission. He described as “painful” the decision to reject 881 applicants who obtained good aggregates.
“We are faced with the painful decision of having to turn down the applications of many otherwise well qualified applicants due to limitations of staff and facilities,” he said.
As a result of these limitations some science students said they had to sit selection tests to gain admission.
“I made the grades and was expecting to be admitted but the university authorities used a test that they conducted to deny my admission,” said Joseph Addo.
“My dream of gaining admission to study medicine has been dashed and I am not sure of what I can do because private universities are very expensive and my parents cannot afford to pay those fees,” Addo added.