Professor George Oduro, Director of the Institute for Educational Planning and Administration on Wednesday advocated that the practice whereby graduate and postgraduate theses become an examination-oriented activity and only find themselves on the shelves after certification should be reviewed.
He also suggested that Faculties should consider introducing a course on ‘Turning Research into Policy ‘ in their postgraduate education programmes , saying that this would help postgraduate students to develop the skills of linking their research to policy.
Prof. Oduro said these at the opening of the 18th Delegates Congress of the Graduate Students Association of Ghana (GRASAG) at the University of Cape Coast (UCC).
The six-day congress which is being attended by students from all the public universities as well as the Methodist university and the Institute of Professional Studies (IPS), is under the theme, “Postgraduate Education and Research: a Tool for National Development.”
The congress is to deliberate on challenges of postgraduate education and the way forward as well as to elect its national executives.
Prof. Oduro underscored the important role research played in the socio-economic development of the nation, stressing that postgraduate education and research was an asset to national development.
He said the nation could benefit from this if there was much commitment towards funding postgraduate studies, as well as creating an enabling environment for postgraduate students to link their research to contextual issues and policy.
He said it was imperative for universities to consider retaining most of their postgraduate products to strengthen their academic staff so that enrolment level of the postgraduate could be increased.
He said inadequate funding had resulted in the dwindling post graduate enrolment in Africa and Ghana in particular, stressing that as at 2009 postgraduate enrolment was 15 per cent in South Africa, 7 per cent in Nigeria and 4 per cent in Ghana.
Prof Oduro noted that statistics from the UCC indicated that in the 2009/2010 academic year, out of a total of 3,914 students enrolment only 328 were postgraduate students, whiles in 2010/2011 only 394 postgraduate students out of 4,094 students were enrolled. In the University of Ghana the proportion of postgraduate students reduced from 14 per cent in 2000 to 7 per cent in 2008.
“Unless the dwindling trend of postgraduate students’ admissions are reversed our country and for that matter Africa will hardly benefit from postgraduate education and research”, he added
In this regard, he tasked the university authorities to explore ways of increasing the number of postgraduate admissions and cautioned that in pursuing this the university authorities should put in place structures to reduce financial waste in the system by discouraging the practice of spending huge sums of money in providing PhD degree programmes to employees who practically did not require such training in the accomplishment of their job specifications.
Prof. Oduro also suggested that academics should provide good role models to postgraduate students by not indexing their research activities to publication for promotion alone, but should rather explore ways of briefing policy makers about their findings.
He expressed concern about the shortage of academic staff at the postgraduate level and called for an urgent concerted action to address the problem ,noting that African academy would not only lose its ability to produce the requisite number of personnel to support their countries’ human resource needs but the quality of intellectual life would continue to erode.
For his part Professor Lawrence Owusu Ansah Dean of the UCC Graduate Studies and Research, and Patron of the UCC GRASAG, said it was the wish of every university to train a number of post graduate students, but regretted that the completion rate of postgraduate students was very low in most of the universities.
He said the rate at which students entered the postgraduate programme was not commensurate with the completion rate, stressing that instead of the two to three years duration for a postgraduate MPhil programme some used more than four years whiles at the PhD level instead of the five years some took 10 years and described the situation as worrying.
Prof. Ansah attributed the situation to the fact that students had to engage in either part or full-time jobs to enable them to generate some income to finance their education. This, he noted, did not allow them to fully concentrate on their academic work particularly on their theses.
He however urged them to empower themselves and work hard towards their goal despite the financial challenges that come with pursuing a postgraduate education.
Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman, Vice Chancellor of UCC who presided advised postgraduate students to remain focused and dedicate more time to their academic work instead of seeking part-time and in some cases full time jobs.
She was unhappy that some postgraduate students gained admission to the University without knowing what they actually want to pursue and suggested that students should be made to write proposals in their area of studies before they were admitted. GNA