Private universities told to conform with public HE sector

Togo’s Higher Education Minister, Ihou Wateba, has announced that courses and diplomas offered by private universities must conform with those of public institutions from the next academic year.

This fulfils a recommendation from an international evaluation of Togo’s private higher education sector, which found that most private universities award qualifications that are not internationally recognised, many teaching staff are unqualified, and many important facilities and infrastructure are lacking.

As demand for higher education has risen during the past 30 years, Togo’s public universities have become saturated and the private sector has grown to account for between a fifth and a quarter of higher education institutions, reported Togonews.

At present, the private universities are free to devise their own courses and assessments, and award their own diplomas.

Reform needed

By contrast, Togonews cited the example of France where, out of more than 3,000 private higher education institutions, only 171 were authorised to award the equivalent of BA and MA degrees in business and management studies; and no private institutions were authorised to award doctorates.

With financial support from the United Nations Development Programme, the Togo Higher Education and Research Ministry commissioned an evaluation of the private sector by a panel of national and international experts, which found changes and reforms were needed, reported Togonews.

Although the 2014 statute governing private universities was based on regulations formulated by *CAMES or, the Conseil Africain et Malgache pour l’Enseignement Supérieur (African and Malagasy Council for Higher Education), and should ensure good control over the sector, the present situation needed revising to fulfil the demands and standards required to guarantee the quality of qualifications, the evaluation found.

According to Togonews, problems identified in private universities included that most of them – 37 out of 47 – awarded diplomas not recognised by CAMES; some of the teaching staff ‘simply do not have the required qualifications’ and an analysis of buildings found a lack of IT facilities, access to drinking water, separate lavatories and infirmaries.

The evaluation panel made a number of recommendations, including the harmonisation of study courses in the public and private sectors, higher qualifications for teachers, greater regulation of premises used by accredited private institutions, and a better match between education and employment needs, reported Togonews.

Before publication of the evaluation report, Wateba announced that, from the next university year, private institutions will be obliged to offer the same studies as public ones and organise examinations coordinated under state control, reported Togonews.

“All students will benefit from the same courses, with the same programmes and recognised degrees,” Togonews quoted him as saying. — Compiled by Jane Marshall.

This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.

*CAMES is an inter-governmental organisation of 19 African countries that promotes cooperation and research in higher education between member states. It is based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.