Enrolment numbers grow, along with science students

Studies into Ghana’s tertiary education sector show that student numbers have been rising steadily. Also, two in five students in both universities and polytechnics are now enrolled in science and technical courses, and distance education numbers have grown by nearly 20%.

This is in line with the government’s Education Strategic Plan covering 2010-20, which expressed the desire to “increase equitable access to high quality tertiary education that provides relevant courses to young adults” and for more “research and intellectual stimulus”.

A recently released Education Sector Performance Report said that the proportion of students enrolled in science and technical programmes had increased in both public universities and polytechnics, and now stood at 39.1% in these institutions combined.

And in accordance with the government’s commitment to open and distance education, in 2011-12 enrolment in distance education courses had risen by 19.5% over the previous year.

The report said enrolment in Ghana’s eight public universities had decreased from 115,452 in 2010-11 to 109,278 in 2011-12 – but over the past two years student numbers in public universities had risen to 127,918 in 2013-14.

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology topped the numbers over the two years, rising from 31,401 in 2012-13 to 34,934 in 2013-14.

Enrolment at the University of Ghana in 2013-14 was 29,955, while the University of Education in Winneba had 20,615 students, the University for Development Studies 20,432, University of Cape Coast 18,735, University of Mines and Technology at Tarkwa 2,009, University of Energy and Natural Resources 715 and University of Health and Allied Sciences 523.

In the area of teaching, the report said that public universities had the highest proportion of full-time teaching staff with PhD level qualifications, at 38%.

In polytechnics and private institutions offering degree programmes, more than 60% of full-time academics had a masters degree. In colleges of education, the largest portion of lecturers had bachelor degrees – 49% – followed by 35% with a masters degree.

The increase in the share of students in science and technical programmes to 39.1% was welcome, but still too low.

The report said: “The generally low proportion enrolled in sciences may be due to the high popularity of other subjects such as business and education. Data on the field of study of all tertiary students show that only 15.5% are enrolled in programmes of ‘arts-social sciences’.”