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Speech Delivered by Prof. N.N.N. Nsowah-Nuamah at Investiture Ceremony


 

Prof. Nicholas Nicodemus Nana Nsowah-Nuamah

 

 

The Chancellor of Regent University College of Science and Technology,

The Chancellor of Pentecost University College, also the Chairman of the Church of Pentecost and the Special Guest of Honour, Apostle Prof Opoku Onyinah,

Ministers of State and Members of Parliament

The Inspector-General of Police,

The Chairman and Members of Council of the Regent University College of Science and Technology,

The Chairmen and Members of Council of other Sister Institutions,

Former Chairman of Kumasi Polytechnic, Alhaji Salifu Seidu,

Heads of Mentoring Institutions (KNUST, UEW, Trinity Theological Seminary),

Heads of Sister Tertiary Institutions,

Head of Association of African Universities,

Niimee, Naamee, Nananom,

Reverend Ministers,

Registrar of Regent Ghana,

Registrars of Sister Tertiary Institutions,

Deans of Faculties and Heads of Department,

Members of Convocation,

Staff and Students,

Alumni,

Distinguished Invited Guests,

Friends and Benefactors of Regent,

Friends from the Media,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

 

Introduction

Permit me to thank the Almighty God for the gift of this day. He has always been good to me and may His name be praised.

I also thank the Trustees and the Council of the Regent University College of Science and Technology for the honour given me by appointing me the President of Regent. I am especially grateful to Professor E.K. Larbi, the Founder and the Chancellor of Regent for the confidence reposed in me for which reason he strongly recommended me for this position.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, please permit me to acknowledge the immense contribution of Professor Larbi, the Founder and the first President of the University College who has laid a solid foundation for the past ten years on which I have to build. He had gone through hard times to get to this level of development of the Institution. Operating from scattered campuses, Regent now has this state-of-the art campus and employs 184 staff. The Institution currently runs 9 Bachelors and 5 masters programmes .

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, a friend wanted to find out what my contribution will be when Prof Larbi had already built this institution to this level. In fact, the response did not come instantly. This is because it is not easy to wear the shoes of such a great person like Professor Larbi so what l said was, this is a difficult question requiring deep thinking. After a second thought, I found something I felt I could share with you. I said that we can liken Professor Larbi to a computer hardware engineer who has built a quality computer with a high speed processor. He looks for a software engineer to develop programs and software to run on the computer. He finds one who fortunately was with him right from the beginning when he was building the machine and who is a time-tested software engineer. This is me.

 

To be able to contribute to Regent, I needed to understand the terrain I have found myself in. Regent-Ghana is a private university and so I want to talk briefly about the challenges of the Private tertiary universities in Ghana.

 

 

Challenges Facing Private Tertiary Universities in Ghana

Mr. Chairman, the challenges facing private University Colleges in Ghana may be outlined as follows.

 

Low Enrolment

Every Institution needs numbers to survive, even the public institutions where the Government of Ghana pays salaries of all workers and also supports the infrastructural development. Even there, when enrolment is low, it is difficult to manage them. In the case of private universities, besides lack of governmental support, enrolment is very low.

 The reasons for low enrolment are not far-fetched:

  • the perception that it is more expensive to study there and that puts prospective students away which cannot be supported by data
  • the traditional universities try to absorb all qualified prospective students for both their regular and non-regular (evening, weekend, distance) programmes;
  • the traditional universities have also now started organizing pre-tertiary programmes, in other words, they eat all the food on the table and come down to collect the remnants as well.

 

The problem of low enrolment numbers is going to be further aggravated with the conversion of Polytechnics to Technical Universities in which I took active part.

 

 

Staff Retention

Staff retention in private universities is a great challenge.  As the former Rector of the then Kumasi Polytechnic, I had always tried to find out why people who were already working, mostly from GES and private universities would want employment at the Polytechnic.  The first answer had always been low remuneration in their former place of work. With the implementation of the single spine salary structure and the continual annual increase of salaries in the public sector, the public universities and Polytechnics have been enjoying enhanced conditions of service to the extent that the salaries of staff of comparable qualifications in private universities and GES are not comparable.

 

Mr. Chancellor, the other reason why staff of private universities would want to leave for even the Polytechnics had always been job security. They reiterate that the private universities were like the informal sector where there is a greater chance that one could lose his or her job. This is expected as it takes a fortune to establish and maintain a tertiary institution and nobody is prepared to gamble with such investment.  So as one would expect, the private universities tend to be stricter and more demanding in terms of delivery.

 

Huge Payment of Affiliation and Affiliation-related Fees 

Another challenge confronting the private universities has to do with the fees chargeable by the mentoring institutions. There are fixed payments to mentoring institutions irrespective of number of students in the institution. So the institution tries with difficulty to get few students and just transfers almost every fund to the mentoring institutions, who has not left any stone unturned in enrolling even the least qualified applicant.

 

Mr. Chancellor, these are some of the challenges that I know, I will have to deal with.   When I told a friend that I was preparing to head a private university, his first reaction was “will you survive with their numerous challenges”. My immediate response was “what is my business there if there are no challenges?”

 

Addressing the Challenges

 Mr. Chairman, one of the solutions to the outlined challenges lie in obtaining a charter status.  To this end, I would suggest that NAB should encourage and hasten the required processes to enable the private institutions to attain that status.  NAB should continue to base the granting of a charter to a tertiary Institution on their stringent criteria and any institution which meets that should be granted.  To assist Institutions, NAB should go in for their second institutional accreditation with the objective of assessing the institution for a charter. I believe that with NAB’s continual monitoring of institutions, the private Universities should be ready for such a challenge.

 

It is important that the private Universities should also be seen to be doing what is expected of them in order to attain the charter status.  This is because attaining a Charter status means:

 

  • The institutions concerned can run innovative programmes which are not run in the mentoring universities without being encumbered by some restrictions that the older public funded institutions place on them;
  • Substantial funds of the institution will be retained by them;
  • Conditions of service of staff will be improved as a result of availability of funds;
  • Staff will be retained and students’ confidence in experienced and familiar faces will be boosted, thereby improving enrolment.

 

 

My Vision for Regent-Ghana

My vision is to position Regent University College of Science and Technology as a World Class institution of higher learning for technological innovation and entrepreneurship enhancement for sustainable development of Ghana and Africa.

 

What are the strategies to achieve this vision?

 

Strategy 1: Obtain Charter

Strategy 2: Increase Enrolment

Strategy 3: Make Regent a Technology and Innovation Research University

Strategy 4: Increase Financial Sustainability

 

Mr. Chancellor, permit me to elaborate on each of the four strategies.

 

Strategy 1: Obtain a Charter

Mr. Chairman, I know that obtaining a Charter requires, among other things, good institutional governance and qualified quality lecturers. I therefore, outline what strategies I will put in place to attain that.

 

Improve institutional governance

My administration will be based on the statutes of the University College and all other relevant policies.  I shall adopt the committee system and encourage team work.

 

Mr. Chancellor, the success or otherwise of my administration will depend largely on how I relate to various stakeholders. I shall:

  • Build on the existing foundation, I will adopt an open-door  policy and strengthen the involvement of the various associations in policy making and implementation;
  • Improve Alumni-Regent relation;
  • Establish a separate unit for Academic Quality Assurance and strengthen it to take over academic staff self-assessment, students’ assessment of lecturers and peer review.

 

Improve Conditions of Service and Build Staff Capacity

University staffing will be reviewed and some realignments will be made where necessary.   I shall recruit and retain relevant and high caliber academic staff.  As funds become available, conditions of service will be much improved.   

 

I will improve staff training and embark on academic and professional staff development. To achieve this, I shall:

  • Encourage staff to undertake further studies and in some cases award them scholarships;
  • Arrange specialized training in academic writing for academic staff ;
  • Organize In-service training for all staff;
  • Set up a transparent system for the promotion of deserving staff.

 

Mr. Chancellor, the visibility of every academic institution depends on the relevance of the academic staff to the outside world through research and publications. In view of this, I shall encourage academic staff members to join the Researchgate, a platform that links researchers from around the world to collaborate more easily for a common purpose of sharing and advancing scientific research.

 

 

Strategy 2: Increase Enrolment

Enrolment will increase when prospective students know that innovative programmes that meet working life are offered at the Institution.  Greater publicity for existing programmes that are industry compliant will be made and new programmes that reflect more closely on labour-market demands will be introduced.

 

Mr. Chancellor, Regent has a very important programme which, I believe, is not well known to the Ministry of Education. This is the BSc. Instructional Technology programme which used to be called “Computing with Education.” It is basically technology-assisted teaching degree programme. The whole world is moving away from imparting knowledge to kids and children the traditional way. I will have a discussion with the Ministry and GES to sponsor some teachers to do this programme. I shall also get the short course coordinator to design tailored short courses for teachers in basic and secondary schools.

 

The curricula of existing programmes will frequently be reviewed and diversified to meet modern trends. We shall develop strong partnership with local industry to the extent that demand-driven programmes that are more relevant to industry and society will be developed. In doing so, we shall develop curricula with full participation of industry and relevant stakeholders. For example, every child is supposed to go through crèche, kindergarten before class one, yet there are not many teachers trained to take care of that. Regent will introduce a technology-based programme in Early Childhood Education.

 

We shall build upon the achievement of Regent as the first institution in the country to offer a postgraduate programme in technical computer science. When it comes to engineering and science related programmes, I will make Regent the first choice for students who want to study practical electrical and electronic engineering, computer engineering and solar technology.

 

To prepare students directly for industry, organized internship and industrial attachments for programmes will be enhanced. We shall solicit the support of industries and organisations in terms of placement.

 

We shall create congenial environment for teaching and learning by improving upon the existing laboratories and also establishing more state-of-the-art lab facilities.

 

Additionally, I will do my best to see to it that the construction of the on-campus hostel facility that can house one thousand students is speedily activated by all necessary means.  This will provide a quality, conducive and affordable hostel facility on campus. I will also work with all stakeholders to heighten the students recruitment drive of the University College.

 

Mr. Chancellor, Regent will now be aggressively focusing on offering more Postgraduate programmes in collaboration with local and foreign institutions, especially in the areas of engineering, science and technology related programmes.  Of course, when the market dictates, we shall not overlook it.

 

 

Strategy 3: Make Regent a Technology and Innovation Research University

Mr. Chancellor, I cannot agree more with Honourable Professor Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation when he stated during his vetting for the Ministerial position that the poverty gap is really a technology gap.  As an institution, we believe this is partly the case. With this in mind, Mr. Chancellor, I will make Regent a Technology and Innovation Research hub with much emphasis on electrical/electronic engineering, computer engineering and renewable energy technology.

 

By God’s grace, we have plans to establish research projects in:

  • Solar Technology with the aim of developing and manufacturing solar panels and producing portable solar energy devices  to power  electronic products in Ghana and in Africa;
  • Electrical and electronics with the aim of assembling most of the electronic gadgets needed in the country.

These projects will:

  • enhance the intellectual capacity of Regent University, community and allow our students to have the hands on experience;
  • enhance  the Africa industrial revolution concept that we all envisage today;
  • boost the confidence of the creation of industries in Ghana and thereby improve significantly the energy sector.

We expect Regent’s postgraduate programmes to concentrate in these areas.  Regent hopes to be able to attract the relevant agencies to provide the institution the needed material and logistical support in these matters.  We hope to be able to collaborate with the relevant local and international institutions as well as eminent researchers, academics and other professionals to collaborate in research, technology development, and innovation.

 

Mr. Chancellor, what is the essence of developing technology if it will not benefit the community and the society in general?  To this end, I will do my utmost best in leading Regent to provide appropriate indigenous solutions for the technological challenges of communities. We shall introduce modern technology and approach in apprenticeship training system in Ghana. Starting with the master craftsmen (women), we will introduce them to the application of modern technology and entrepreneurship through short term training courses to upgrade their skills. This knowledge will then be transferred to their apprentices. Again, skills training programmes will also be developed for the JHS graduates or above to prepare them for self-employment.  The totality is the improvement of quality of services artisans will render to the public.  To get funding for research, we shall

  • Establish Chairs;
  • Write proposals to agencies such as the Skills Development Fund (SDF) of COTVET;
  • Establish joint research projects with business and industry;
  • Solicit for funding.

 

Mr. Chancellor, finally on research, we have realized that there is a gap between the quality of research conducted in Africa and that conducted in the advanced countries. In view of this, Regent will lead in the establishment of the innovative “Africa Intellectual Database for Development & Excellence” (AIDDE) e-library and e-Teaching platform. This project is expected to link all Ghanaian Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges together to share one stock academic e-textbooks. The platform will also link all the tertiary institutions in Ghana to the whole world in accessing over 230,000 new current academic e-textbooks relevant for the lecturers and students to conduct research in any industry sector. The same platform has the innovative e-Teaching platform whereby professors can have access to current academic textbooks that will be used to teach the various courses. The project will cut down the burden on lecturers and students spending time on the internet looking for good and current books to conduct research because the platform will give them access to wide range of academic textbooks.

 

Strategy 4: Increase Financial Sustainability

Regent or any other private university for that matter, cannot survive by concentrating on student enrolment and fees alone. Regent does not have the numbers and has in addition reduced school fees by about 30%, just to make Regent education accessible to students. The funding gap has to be filled and this has to be done through the strengthening of the mobilization of internally generated funds (IGF) through:

 

  • Technology development and Innovation;
  • Establishment of joint ventures with other entrepreneurs;
  • Run postgraduate and demand-driven programmes;
  • Increase number of foreign students.

 

In addition, Mr. Chancellor, we shall revamp the Fundraising Unit at the Institution in soliciting funding support from the Alumni, corporate organisations, industry and businesses, and individuals for:

  • academic and practical work of students and staff;
  • specific programmes and activities of the Institution; and
  • establishment of Regent Endowment Fund.

Mr. Chancellor, the task is huge and I am appealing to the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation to support us with funding opportunities so we can make Ghana the West African technology hub.

 

 

Conclusion

Mr. Chancellor, I am sure what is going through people’s mind is what is my capacity to achieve all these.

Firstly, I combine experience from both academia and public service which provides me great insight into needs of Government, industry and society which require the effort of academia to solve.

 

Secondly, I have consulted for a number of national and international organisations which has brought me close to people who matter in achieving my vision for Regent.

 

Third, I have established collaborations with a number of academic institutions in China, USA, Canada, Korea and on the continent of Africa when I was the head of Kumasi Polytechnic/Kumasi Technical University. The collaborations made Kumasi Polytechnic then the envy of other institutions with regards to staff development.

 

Fourthly, I like to take risk. When I don’t see challenges, I create one that will give me sleepless nights. I strongly believe that opportunities are always hidden in the seed of challenges and crises.

 

Above all, I have God who has always guided me to succeed wherever He has placed me to serve and I am sure Regent will not be the first place God will introduce me to failure. He has guided me to sail through difficult times and I know He will continue to guide me.

 

Mr. Chancellor, Hon. Minister for Education, the Clergy, Nananom, Ladies and Gentlemen, I will end my address by thanking, once again, the Trustees and the Council of Regent, and especially, the Chancellor and Founder for the confidence they have reposed in me.  God being my helper, I believe I will live up to the trust reposed in me.

 

I promise to be guided by the Statutes and Policies of the Institution as well as the Constitution of Ghana and other relevant laws with regards to my actions and decisions during my term.  If, in the course of executing my duty I step on toes, I will plead that you take it in good faith and forgive me.

 

I will need the support, assistance and cooperation of my team and the prayer support from everyone, especially the Regent community.  I believe together we will succeed.

I thank you for your rapt attention and May God bless us all