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President’s annual Report 2012/2013


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SECTION 1: INSTITUTIONAL BACKGROUND

Introduction

The Regent University College of Science and Technology is a private tertiary institution located in Accra, Ghana. It was registered in September 2003 as a company limited by guarantee. It received accreditation to operate as a tertiary institution in 2004, and in January 2005, it started operation with the intake of 30 pioneer students. The University currently operates from four satellite campuses located at Dansoman, Fadama, Lartebiokorshie and the McCarthy Hill. The latter is soon to be developed into a purpose built campus. All campuses are in Accra.

 

1.1 Vision and Mission

The mission of Regent-Ghana is to produce purpose-driven  human resource committed  to socio-economic and spiritual renewal, with science and technology expertise in a competitive global environment. The University community shares in the vision of the Founder and President, Prof. E. Kingsley Larbi, to establish and maintain one of the leading and finest institutions in the world.

This understanding informs and fashions the investment we make in our students, faculty, and supporting staff. Motivated by a dedicated and visionary leadership, ICT-driven curricula, and Christian ethical values; we aim at having our students fully prepared to effectively spearhead  national and industrial development anywhere in the global community.


1.2 Schools

Regent-Ghana has three Schools, namely, Regent School of Business and Economics (SBE), Regent School of Informatics and Engineering (SIE) and Regent School of Theology, Ministry and Human Development (STM &HD). Regent-Ghana also has the Institute of Languages and General Studies with a Centre for Academic Writing.  Currently, eighteen (18) interdisciplinary programmes are run across the schools.

 

i. Regent School of Informatics and Engineering

The School of Informatics and Engineering (SIE) is established within the university as a pace-setter in providing high quality and integrated ICT-based university education, having in mind the developmental and technological needs of the African continent. Regent sees the study of the structure, behavior, and the interactions of both  natural and artificial computational systems as a discipline critical to the future development of science, technology and society. In our fast-moving technology-oriented world, the discipline of computer science in its various facets, is affecting every aspect of human endeavour. To reflect the ever-changing nature of computer science and its close interaction with other disciplines, the curriculum of the SIE has taken into consideration a broad range of programmes and disciplines. 

Programmes offered include:

A.  Department of Informatics

  1. BSc. Computer Science
  2. BSc. Information System Sciences
  3. BSc. Instructional Technology

 

B.  Department of Engineering

  1. B.Eng Applied Electronics and Systems Engineering with options in:-
    • Telecommunications Engineering
    • Instrumentation Engineering
    • Computer Engineering

 

C.  Department of Mathematics and Statistics

  1. MSc. Statistics
  2. BSc. Statistics 

 

ii. Regent School of Business and Economics

The School of Business and Economics (SBE) adopts a multi-disciplinary approach in the study of business related courses with computing, with the aim of producing highly marketable professionals equipped with information technology skills and the competencies and professional skills required in their own chosen fields. Students are enabled, with this special arrangement, to acquire the versatility required to function effectively and successfully in today's ICT-driven business environment and thereby bring creativity and innovation to bear on their jobs.

The following are the departments under this school and the programmes they each offer:

 

A. Department of Accounting and Business Studies

  1. BSc. Accounting and Information Systems
  2. BSc. Banking and Finance
  3. BSc. Economics with Computing
  4. Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) e-Commerce option

 

B. Department of Management Studies

  1. BSc. Management with Computing
  2. MBA

 

C.  Regent Business Development Centre

  1. Short-term Courses
  2. Consultancy Services

 

Regent School of Theology, Ministry and Human Development (STMHDP)

There is increasing interest in formal ministerial training among a cross section of the membership and  leadership of the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches today. However, their church-based Bible Schools are not sufficiently equipped in terms of qualified human resource and adequate learning resources to provide them with the high level of training they need. It is for this reason that the Regent Divinity Department joins the few theological institutions in the country to support theological and allied education in the country. 

The school has three departments namely; department of Theology and Ministry, department of Human Development and Psychology and the Centre for Studies in African development.

 

A. Department of Theology and Ministry

  1. Certificate in Church Ministry and Leadership
  2. Bachelor of Theology and Management
  3. Master of  Divinity (M.Div)
  4. Master of Theology (M.Th)

 

B. Department of Human Development and Psychology

a. BSc. Human Development and Psychology

 

1.3 Affiliations

Locally, Regent-Ghana is currently affiliated to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in Kumasi. Its theological programmes are certified by Trinity Theological Seminary at Legon, Accra. The University of Education, Winneba certifies its Human Development and Psychology programme (undergraduate). Regent-Ghana’s international partners include Maastricht School of Management, Maastricht, the Netherlands; Clarion University of Pennsylvania, USA; Deggendorf University of Applied Sciences, (Germany); Lulea University of Technology (Sweden); Wheelock College, Boston, (USA); and University of Applied Sciences, Umwelt Campus, Birkenfeld, Germany. The University is a member of the Conference of Heads of Private Universities, Ghana and has also applied to become a member of the Association of African Universities (AAU).

 

1.4 Governance

The principal governing body of the University is the University Council. Authority in purely academic matters lies with the Senate (Senatus Academicus). The Regent Ghana Students' Union (RGSU) provides a variety of services and facilities for the student population. The RGSU parliament represents students on various committees and organizations, both within and outside the University.

 

Section B: Academic Year Review (2012/2013)

Introduction

The 2012/2013 academic period has been eventful and productive with another churn out of excellent world class graduates. The institution has been steadfast in pursuance of producing purpose-driven human resource with science and technology expertise to function as change agents in our competitive global environment.

The year also saw new student recruitment into the Regent Community with series of programmes and activities.

 

 

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Web-based University & College Rankings: What We Need to Know


In recent times, reportage on tertiary education ranking in the country is increasingly gaining recognition. Some have used it as the yardstick for assessing how well these institutions are doing.  Presently, in our country as well as other countries, the Webometrics ranking of world universities is the most respected of all university web-rankings. Inclusion in the ranking is free.  From all available evidence, our universities, colleges, and some opinion leaders, have relied more on the Webometrics rankings for their conclusions than any other body.

For instance, based on the 2010 Webometrics ranking publication, authorities of KNUST, attributed their ranking as the top university in Ghana, and 20th in Africa to “…quality of staff and graduates that the university churns out and its contribution to the development of the country”.  (The Ghanaian Times, Tuesday, February, 23, 2010 Edition).  Similarly, in response to the 2011 ranking publication, KNUST expressed their excitement about their consistent improvement on the ranking table, again 1st in Ghana, and 18th in Africa.  The authorities of the KNUST attributed their ranking to the toil of management, faculty and students of the university who are determined to remain at the top. (Ghana’s First Free National Tertiary Newspaper, Feb21-27, 2011 Edition.  The article is also available athttp://knust.edu.gh/pages/news.php).

In line with that same publication, there were reports in both the print and the electronic media about Regent University College of Science and Technology being ranked 3rd best in Ghana after KNUST and University of Ghana in the 1st and 2nd position respectively.  

One of the co-authors of this article remembers vividly a recent meeting he had with the head of one of the major Christian denominations in Ghana.  This eminent denominational head could not hide his excitement about his position on the Webometrics ranking, when he said “our university is the best in Ghana!”  To which the co-author asked, ‘Did you mean, the best among the private universities in Ghana?” His question still did not curtail the excitement of this denominational head, when he answered, “Yes, it is the best in Ghana.” The co-author however, had to draw his attention to the fact that the situation keeps on changing and that some few months back, the institution in question did not occupy the first position. 

In another instance, during a recent induction service of a newly appointed Rector of one of the private universities, the rector, who had just returned from a lectureship appointment in South Africa, stated how well his previous university in South Africa was doing on the university rankings, based upon Webometrics data, and that he was going to work hard to improve the ranking of the new institution which he had been appointed to head.

During a recent encounter between a reporter of Village Communications with our public affairs manager, the hostess of the programme “Hard Truth”  was adamant in insisting that, Regent University College of Science and Technology was experiencing declension in that,  the institution had dropped from the third position in the January 2011 Webometrics ranking. The host will not agree that the ranking, important as it is, does not touch on important issues like staff-student ratio, class sizes, the quality of physical infrastructure, the quality of learning resources (library) available in an institution.    

Since there is currently no indigenous or regional ranking body, it appears that Webometrics for some time now, has set the pace.  As the web-based ranking of tertiary institutions increasingly gains importance in Ghana, there is the need for institutions to strive for consistency, circumspection, and integrity, knowing that it’s only hard work that can raise the profile in visibility of our educational institutions on the global terrain.

Recent media reports indicate that some are using another web ranking body (4International Colleges and Universities-4icu.org,) to highlight the performance of various institutions. A publication in the Daily Graphic of February 26, 2013, has the caption “VVU is ranked first private university in Ghana.” The author, based his conclusions entirely on the publications of 4icu.org ranking.  Expectedly, the school authorities also welcomed it as a success story and attributed it to the high level of innovation and the quest for research work by the institution.  Whiles on the Webometrics ranking, a different polytechnic institution took the best ranked polytechnic in the country.

In another publication in the Daily Graphic dated February 19, 2013,  it was reported that “Kumasi Polytechnic ranked best in Ghana” based on December 2012 rankings of the 4icu.org ranking.  Authorities of the institution commented in that news story with great joy and attributed their success to “demonstrated aggressive approach to research, advancement of ICT” at the university campuses among others. Meanwhile, on the Webometrics ranking, the same private university for the same period (six-month ending, 31st December, 2012), occupied the 4th position.

The author of the two articles entirely ignored the Webometrics ranking which was released during the same period.  Not surprisingly, another article has just appeared on Myjoyonline (15th March, 2013) with the caption “Takoradi Polytechnic rated Ghana best for the 2nd time” http://edition.myjoyonline.com/pages/news. So you see, confusion emerges: Who is Who?

In an undertaking of this nature one does not expect the same kind of results if different variables are used.  However, if the same variables are used, then one would expect the results to be the same. 

This obviously raises a key concern as to the pedigree and credibility of these ranking bodies as well as the reliability of their rankings in respect of quality education delivery.  Since the Webometrics rankings have gained currency globally, and the 4icu rankings also seems to be making some inroads, it is important that for the benefit of the reading public and decision makers,  more information is provided on the two bodies. The purpose of this article is therefore to provide more information on the two organisations, and how our local institutions are faring locally and globally.  It concludes with a call to all stake holders of our local institutions not to be satisfied with their position as local champions or being among the local champions; rather they are encouraged to focus on the ultimate goal of becoming global champions, since at the moment, our positions in the global rankings are not the best.

 

Webometrics/Cybermetrics Lab Rankings

The Webometrics University Ranking is a biannual publication by the Cybermetrics Lab, which attempts to provide reliable, multidimensional and updated information about the performance of more than 20,000 higher educational institutions worldwide. The ranking is based on combined indicators that consider both the volume of Web content and the visibility and impact of these web publications according to a number of external inlinks they receive. The Ranking is to promote academic web presence, supporting Open Access Initiatives for increasing significantly the transfer of scientific and cultural knowledge generated by the universities to the whole Society. This approach takes into account a wide range of scientific activities represented in academic websites. The publication of the rankings, according to the Cybermetrics Lab, is one of the most powerful and successful tools for consolidating the processes of change in the academia to increase institutions and scholars’ commitment to their mission (teaching, research and transfer) through web publications (http://webometrics.info/en/Methodology).

The Cybermetrics Lab is a research group of the Spanish Research Council-the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) - the largest scientific public research body in Spain (attached to the ministry of education) and one of the most important networks of research centres in Europe. The CSIC collaborates with other institutions of the Spanish Research and Development system including universities, autonomous bodies, other public and private research organisations, etc, which contribute to the Cybermetrics Lab with its research capacity and human and material resources in the development of research projects.

The Lab has been developing quantitative studies on the academic web since the mid-nineties and outcome presented mainly in the conferences of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI, 1995-2011) and the International Conferences on Science and Technology Indicators (STI-ENID, 1996-2012) and published in high impact journals (Journal of Informetrics, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Scientometrics, Journal of Information Science, Information Processing & Management, Research Evaluation and others). The Lab is devoted to quantitative analysis of Internet and Web contents specially those related to the processes of generation and scholarly communication of scientific knowledge. Its approach is based on university web presence, visibility and web access and measures how strongly a university is present in the web by its own web domain, sub-pages, rich files, scholarly articles etc.

Webometrics uses link analysis (covering bibliographic citations and third parties involvement with university activities) to capture the multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary dimensions of universities worldwide for quality evaluation. Four key scientifically designed indicators are used to measure institutional activities (Excellence, presence, openness) and their visibility (as impact).

Excellence - a measure of high quality output of research institutions based on academic papers published in high impact international journals in their respective scientific fields with data provided by Scimago Group.

Presence - The total number of webpages hosted in the main webdomain (including all the subdomains and directories) of the university as indexed by the largest commercial search engine-Google.

Openness - This account for the number of rich files (pdf, doc, dcx, ppt) published in dedicated websites compiled by the Google Scholar academic search engine. Result of this indicator is to stir and promote global effort to set up institutional research repositories widely accessible to all.

Impact - This indicator measures quality of contents which is evaluated by counting all external inlinks that the University webdomain receives from third parties. Such data is collected and provided by the Majestic SEO and Ahrefs  (both being Search Engine Optimisation tools) both generating different databases. These links are subjected to criteria of web edited from all over the world to reflect institutional prestige, the academic performance, the value of the information, and the usefulness of the services as introduced in the webpages.

From all indications, it is obvious at this point that the Webometrics ranking is a credible one with scientifically based methodologies that is strongly supported by long rooted research bodies in academia. As the rankings of the two organisations are all web-based, one may deductively conclude that the ranking is just assessing web presence (which is obvious and I agree) through web publications and hence raises scepticism and doubt about the reliance of the rankings in assessing quality education delivery. However, the indicators used are conglomerate of several dimensions or variables all specifically targeting academic activities and related issues on the web.

 

4International Colleges & Universities

4International Colleges & Universities (4icu.org) is a higher education search engine and directory which review and rank about 11,160 Colleges and Universities by web popularity, in 200 countries twice each year since 2005. 

According to this body, the ranking uses an algorithm including five unbiased and independent web metrics extracted from three different search engines: Google Page Rank Alexa Traffic Rank and the Majestic SEO, having three metrics - Referring Domains, Citation Flow, and Trust Flow.

The body however states that, the exact formula adopted to aggregate the three web metrics is not disclosed for copyright reasons and to minimize attempts of manipulation from university webmasters in order to achieve better rankings. Information on the 4icu.org website clearly indicates that the body objective and scope has nothing to do with academic ranking and hence quality of tertiary education delivery. It states “We do not claim - by any means - to rank organisations or their programs, by the quality of education or level of services provided. The 4icu.org University Web Ranking is not an academic ranking and should not be adopted as the main criteria for selecting a higher education organization where to study” but rather ... “to provide an approximate popularity ranking of world Universities and Colleges based upon the popularity of their websites. This is intended to help international students and academic staff to understand how popular a specific University/College is in a foreign country” http://www.4icu.org/menu/about.htm accessed on 4th Feb 2013.

It appears from the foregoing that there is no clarity and transparency in the methodology adopted by the 4icu.  It is also worth noting that the core objective of this body has virtually little or no relation with quality delivery of tertiary education.  

 

Conclusions

It is also important to mention that the web-rankings, important as it is, does not take into consideration factors like the quality of a said institution’s physical infrastructure, student-faculty ratio, and the quality of an institution’s learning resource centre (Library), among others.

It is time our local tertiary institutions beef-up their efforts and capacity on technological reliance so that they could boldly compete with their international counterparts. If this ranking is global why then are our local tertiary institutions often comparing themselves only with institutions within the borders of Ghana, ignoring what is happening in other latitudes?   In all the media reports, the position on the ranking in the world is never mentioned or commented on. It appears we are only interested in being recognized as local champions ignoring the fact that the picture of our performance is being viewed and assessed by global indicators which call for hard work.

A highlight of the six-month Webometrics ranking, ending December, 2012, which was released in February, 2013, is quite humbling.  We reproduce the data for the first ten institutions in Ghana below.

 

Tertiary Institutions

July 2012 to December, 2012 Rankings

Ghana

Africa

World

University of Ghana

1

18

1672

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology

2

23

1833

University of Cape Coast

3

54

3480

University of Education, Winneba

4

92

5222

Ashesi University

5

over 100

7645

Regent University College of Science & Technology

6

over 100

8752

Presbyterian University College

7

over 100

8833

University for Development Studies

8

over 100

9780

Valley View University

9

over 100

10553

Christian Service University College

10

over 100

11978

http://www.webometrics.info/en/Ranking_africa

 

We can make the following conclusions from the forgoing table.

  • Only four of our local tertiary institutions  manage to appear in the top 100 rankings in Africa with the best position being 18 in Africa and 1672 in the world by University of Ghana;
  • The best ranked private university in Ghana (Ashesi University) occupies the 7645 position in the world and not even listed among the top 100 in Africa.

Comparatively, our effort is not enough to earn us any medal in the African and Global scene. Even though there has been significant improvement in our technological usage in our local tertiary institutions compared to a decade or so ago, we have all fallen short to the glory of globalization and technological advancement from a global assessment perspective.

Key questions that need to be researched and answered is what are the  best ranked tertiary institutions in Africa and the world doing that our local tertiary institutions are not doing? On the African continent, eight (8) out of ten (10) highest ranked universities by the December 2012 Webometrics ranking are from South Africa with Stellenbosch University leading in Africa.  The best in Africa occupies the 400th position in the world!

It’s time we ignite our momentum, break loose of every complacency and aim at becoming global leaders. With hard work, determination, and investment in technology, the institutions in Ghana can improve upon their rankings.   This is possible!  We remember University of Ghana being 43 in Africa in 2007, climbing to 40 in 2010 and now 18 on the African ranking in December 2012. Similarly, KNUST was 63 in Africa in 2007, rising to 20 in 2010 and now 23.

Thus, there is light at the tunnel but this call for greater efforts, increased technology application and capacity building, and a positive change of attitude by all stakeholders with a view of making our tertiary educational institutions global centres of excellence. 

By:

Okyeame Larbi & Ohene Gyamfi,

Regent University College of Science and Technology, Ghana

Our Educational Institutions and the use of Technology


Whereas a lot of strides have been made by some countries in the Southern hemisphere to bridge the digital divide that had existed between them and the countries of the Northern hemisphere, there are still many countries in the Southern hemisphere, particularly Africa, which have a lot of catching up to do.  One would argue without any fear of contradiction, that the most significant factor that has made our world today a “global village” is the use of information communication technology. Through this technology, some educational institutions in the developed world have maximized the delivery of quality education not only to their own people, but also to people living in distant lands.  Thankfully, some educational institutions elsewhere in emerging economies have not been left behind either. 

Information and communication technology as a tool, undoubtedly, eliminates distance as a barrier; it has a great potential to increase access to quality education at a minimal cost.  Let me share some two examples from our own experience at Regent.
At the time I was writing this article, there was an MBA thesis defense going on at our City Campus here at Regent. The examiners were located in the Netherlands, at the Maastricht School of Management (MSM); the candidates (two of them) were located in Accra, at our City Campus, Graphic Road.  These students were those who, for some technical reasons, could not defend their theses when the defense was physically conducted at our campus here in Accra in 2010.  Since then, these students have completed their theses and needed to defend it.  The external examiners did not have to travel to Ghana in order to conduct the required defense.  Through the use of Skype’s videoconferencing facility, coupled with a good internet connectivity, the defense went on successfully.  At the end of the defense the examiners retired briefly for the necessary consultations and discussions, and in less than ten minutes they came back online with their results and other recommendations.

Another example is of interest here.  Some of our teaching assistants have been enrolled in an MSc Information Security degree programme offered by Lulea University of Technology, Sweden.  The students are here in Ghana. The faculty is in Sweden and the whole Program is offered through a virtual campus. Every student has a unique ID which allows him to access the course material and relevant information on the Students’ Portal. Electronic books are provided as part of the information on the Portal.  Every assignment is put on the Portal to be accessed by the student.  Schedules are provided for students to be able to meet with their lecturers online for real time lectures.  After every discussion, assignments are submitted in line with agreed deadlines.  Facilitated by the lecturer, forums are created for real time discussions, critiques, etc, among the students.  These students are scattered around the globe.  Examinations are conducted online.  During such examinations, the invigilator is able to monitor the students through web cameras.  The results are provided online after completion of a module. The lecturers provide students with their email addresses and telephone numbers to enable the students to contact them for assistance should  the need arise.

The foregoing are some of the ways the modern world delivers long distance education, using the power of technology.  Unfortunately, most of Africa today is too slow to respond to these modern trends. In Ghana for instance, our understanding and delivery of “Distance Education” has virtually remained unchanged for decades.   It does not seem the institutions which are currently engaged in this, are ready or willing to adapt to these global trends.  They are therefore not in hurry to develop the requisite manpower which will spearhead the necessary changes in the form and delivery of  distance education.

In our modern world, it is the institutions that make use of technology, especially, information communication technology that will continue to be at the forefront.  It is therefore not surprising that the first nine of the top ranking Universities in Africa are all located in South Africa,  according to the recent rankings by the Cybermetrics Lab.  This should not come to us as a surprise.  In South Africa, ICT infrastructure has well advanced ahead of the rest of Africa.  Educators here are making great use of it in their delivery of education.   Consistently, over decades, USA has been a global leader in information and communication technology.  The educational institutions here have become part and parcel of that culture, and have therefore used it to a great advantage.  So United States has consistently stood at the forefront as the bastion of world class universities.  Thankfully, some educational institutions in emerging economies like China and Republic of Korea, have seized the opportunity, and they are literally flying to reach the forefront as well, through technology.   

Since 2004, the Cybermetrics Lab publishes the Ranking Web of World Universities twice in a year, January and July. The publication covers more than 20,000 higher educational institutions worldwide.  The aim of this, according to the publishers, is to motivate both institutions and scholars to maintain a web presence that accurately reflects their activities.  As one would expect, the release of these rankings generates quite a lot of interest especially among the academic community.  In Ghana, the January 2011 rankings for instance, has elicited mixed responses, ranging from delight to utter surprise and consternation.  Why?  It appears some had wished that the older institutions, with all the support they get from the central government, will perform better than the new institutions.  For instance, whereas KNUST takes the premier position, University of Ghana takes the second position; whereas Regent University College takes the third top position, UCC takes the fourth position, University of Education, Winneba, takes the 7th position, and the Presbyterian University College takes the fifth position.  Curiously, institutions like GIMPA, UMAT, UDS, do not feature at all on the first 10 top ranking universities in Ghana, whereas Ashesi, Valley View and Central appear on the list of the top ten. 

One glaring picture that comes out from the rankings is that most of the institutions in Africa (perhaps, with the exception of South Africa, which occupies 314 position on the world rankings) have to make a lot of investments in ICT infrastructure and its full deployment at all levels in our educational set ups in order to catch up with the rest of the world.  The good news is that when it  comes to the use of technology, it does not matter whether we are dealing with older institutions founded several decades ago, or  new institutions established less than a decade ago.  

Technology is not a respector of persons, age, institutions, 3 traditions, and nations; it is uncompromisingly neutral!  Both traditional and new institutions will do well to  reckon that technology is one single factor that has made the “global village” phenomenon a modern reality, and it is the most efficient way of doing business today.  It is therefore imperative for both old and young educational institutions in our nation to embrace  it as a critical factor and work hard to integrate our operations into this global phenomenon.

We cannot claim to be part of the global village and continue to do business as usual; if we persist in doing business as usual, unmindful of the forces that are shaping educational institutions in this globalised world, we will inevitably become fossilized whilst the rest of the world moves on triumphantly on the wings of technology.  As educators at the tertiary level, we will do well not to forget that somewhere beyond our shores, in the realms beyond or outside our control, someone is reckoning our existence, our operations, and our performance, as we articulate them in the virtual world.  Though the conclusions of these empiricists may not be in line with our self-imposed wishes and expectations, we will do well to accept that wishes and expectations alone may not be enough to take us to our desired destination.

Regent University College as an institution, therefore considers it imperative to urge all stakeholders in our constituency, to continue to strive towards increased use of technology, especially information communication technology, in the pursuit of our objective of becoming a world class institution in our modern world, which is controlled and directed by technology.  To this end, our concentration as stakeholders, should not be how well we are doing nationally but rather, how well we are doing globally. This should be our preoccupation and our collective imperative!