Legal powers key to thwarting dubious tertiary colleges

In the face of tertiary education institutions flouting the law, Ghana’s National Accreditation Board, or NAB, has complained of not having the power to prosecute. This follows accusations by the opposition New Patriotic Party that NAB had turned a blind eye to the operations of some 53 unaccredited institutions across the country.

Kwame Dattey, executive secretary of NAB, said the law that set it up only allowed NAB to monitor, develop, assess and award accreditation to institutions offering diplomas and degrees.

The board was established in 1993 by Law 317, which was replaced by Act 744 of 2007. It is responsible for the accreditation of both public and private institutions and for ensuring the quality of programmes and courses.

The sector

Currently, NAB oversees 187 tertiary institutions.

There are nine public universities, six professional institutions, one regionally owned university, three chartered private tertiary institutions and 60 private institutions offering degrees and higher national diplomas.

In addition, there are 11 tutorial colleges, 10 polytechnics, 39 public colleges of education, seven private colleges of education, three colleges of agriculture, 19 public and five private nurses training colleges as well as 14 registered foreign tertiary institutions.

There are worries over the proliferation of law and journalism schools that are operating without accreditation. Dattey said these institutions must seek accreditation before opening, and announced that some had been closed down.

He asked the public to seek NAB’s advice when applying for foreign study to ensure that institutions providing various professional courses and online education were accredited or recognised by the board.

NAB said that while it appreciated the concerns of the New Patriotic Party on the negative impacts of unaccredited institutions on the youth, it did not agree to charges of “criminal dereliction of duty on the part of NAB”.

“We wish to state clearly that the law that set up the institution – the National Accreditation Board Act 2007 (Act 744) and the Legislative Instrument-Tertiary Institutions (Establishment and Accreditation) Regulations 2010 (LI 1984) as they stand now do not empower NAB to close down any unaccredited tertiary education institution,” the board said.

NAB added that it had started working with the Ministry of Education to have the legal framework reviewed, to give the board the legal power to physically close down and prosecute operators of unaccredited institutions.

“Despite this handicap, NAB has been very responsible and proactive by publishing at the beginning of every year a full list of all accredited institutions to enable the general public, parents and especially students to make informed decisions on institutions that are credible and accredited,” the board said in a statement.

Accountants challenge NAB blacklist

In another development, the Chartered Institute of Certified Tax Accountants, or CICTA, has commenced an action in the human rights division of the High Court to challenge a NAB decision to blacklist the institute from the list of professional bodies in Ghana.

CICTA said that posturing by NAB, to the effect that acquiring a CICTA certificate would be tantamount to a waste of time and resources, was “false and dubious”.

Last month NAB and the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana jointly ran newspaper advertisements with the headline, “Public Notice – Unaccredited institutions”.

They warned prospective students, employers and the public that CICTA did not have the legal mandate to award academic or professional qualifications that might be accepted for job placements and progression, and claimed that they were the only two bodies accredited to give mandates for running accounting programmes and the profession.