Universities to apply for reaccreditation of programmes

The Ghana Tertiary Education Commission has suspended the accreditation of new academic programmes for public universities to get them to put in place measures to go through the accreditation process for existing programmes that have expired, John Dadzie-Mensah, deputy executive secretary at the National Accreditation Board, said.

Dadzie-Mensah said the decision was merely to put a “brake on fresh applications so that we can look at what we have in existence”. He added that universities have a set time span within which they go through the reaccreditation of programmes they offer. “New programmes take three years for the first instance, and are reaccredited every five years.”

Dadzie-Mensah was responding after recent local media reports that universities were offering programmes that were not accredited. He told University World News: “The auditor-general directed its attention on public universities and the programmes they run and discovered that some programmes were not accredited.” However, this did not mean the programmes were no longer valid, only that reaccreditation has to be obtained. This can be a lengthy process.

The Ghana Audit Service through the 2021 auditor-general’s report, said it had uncovered that some public universities ran academic programmes that were not accredited. According to the report, 374 programmes at the University of Ghana were not accredited. These include 14 diploma programmes, 80 undergraduate courses, 213 postgraduate and 67 PhD courses, Africanews reported on 1 September 2022.

Action should be expedited

According to the report, running unaccredited courses contravened Section 36 of the Education Regulatory Bodies Act, 2020 (Act 1023), which “provides that a person who runs or advertises a tertiary education programme that is not accredited commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than ten thousand penalty units and not more than twenty thousand penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years and not more than 20 years, or to both”.

The auditor-general recommended that the management of the university “expedite action for accreditation and reaccreditation of all new and expired academic programmes, respectively”.

The report’s publication, which forced parliament’s public accounts committee to summon the universities to their sittings, caused some public concern as to whether the institutions were taking students for a ride.

Dadzie-Mensah explained that auditing has changed and is no longer concerned with only the finances of institutions but their programmes as well to see if they are following the guidelines that they have set for themselves.

For this reason, he said, the auditing of the programmes was only to show that, although they had been accredited, the institutions had not completed the full cycle of seeking approval for their continuous running. “Reaccreditation does not mean the programme had no use any more, it was just to tell the operators that time has passed and knowledge has changed and, so, they incorporate these new trends in their programmes,” he added.

Students, stakeholders reassured

The management of the University of Ghana said in a statement that most undergraduate and graduate programmes at the university are fully accredited or are in the process of renewing accreditation.

“The university has been working closely with the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission to streamline processes in both institutions to ensure that all programmes in the university are restored to good standing within the shortest possible time, and also to rework the structures and procedures for accreditation of programmes.”

In the statement, the university assured its “students, former students, and stakeholders all certificates issued by the University of Ghana remain valid, and we commit to working towards regularising the accreditation status of all our programmes in the short term and working towards streamlining and automating the accreditation system in the long term”.