The eighth congregation of Data Link Institute, a private University in Tema in the Greater Accra region of the Republic of Ghana, has taken place at Tema.

In all, 356, made up of 168 women, 188 men and seven foreign students, who pursued different academic disciplines, graduated, with Mr Owusu Grant emerging as the best Accounting student, overall male best student and overall best student while Miss Adjetey Sheila emerged as the best student in Banking and Finance, and the overall best female student.

This year, 27 of the graduates qualified in the Advanced Logistics and Transport programme of the Institute of Logistics and Transport of the United Kingdom.

In a keynote address, the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, disclosed that government had waived the 25 per cent corporate tax slapped on private universities.

Professor Yankah said government was aware of the several obstacles confronting private universities and had, therefore, started rolling out policies to bring relief to private sector education, adding that the waiver of the 25 per cent corporate tax was one of the several reforms that government envisaged to roll out within the tertiary sector.

“We are aware that many private universities are facing challenges of stagnation and, indeed, decline in student enrollment; many are choking in debt and as one private university president said, recently, several faced imminent shutdown,” he said.

He said the tax waiver was expected to give private universities a measure of relief and help them to utilize any surpluses made towards expanding private sector education.

Furthermore, he said, private universities would serve the national purpose even better if the expansion contemplated was in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Prof. Yankah disclosed that government would introduce supplementary policies that would move education in Ghana towards the 60-40 Science-to-Humanities ratio.

Mr Ernest Ansah, Founder and Executive Chairman, Council of Data Link Institute, in an address, disclosed that Data Link had started a two-year M.Sc. Computer Science programme with the Jiangu University of Science and Technology in China, the first year of which course would be run in Ghana with a minimal fee payable while the second year of the course would be undertaken in China under full scholarship from the Chinese government.

Mr Ansah called for the harmonization of the operations of the National Accreditation Board (NAB) and the National Board for Professional and Technician ((NABPTEX)) Examinations in order to end the duplication of accreditation procedures and fees.

Mr Ansah explained that Data Link Institute applied for an HND programme from NABPTEX and received approval from NABPTEX, but the Institute was, again, required to obtain approval from NAB,  which approval took NAB over two years to grant and by which time the accreditation from NABPTEX had expired.

In addition, he said, NAB was also a financial drain on private universities due to the high fees charged for their facility visits, programmes and for certificates. “Most private universities are financially overburdened by these fees and this affects funding for innovation and expansion in infrastructure. The sustenance of private universities has become a critical issue for consideration,” he indicated.

He was of the view that NAB should be decentralized into zones with autonomy to do their jobs under set goals to engender efficiency and expediency in service delivery.

Touching on the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme, Mr Ansah noted that by 2020/2021, tertiary institutions would be overwhelmed with applications from SHS graduates qualified to enter the universities.

There was, therefore, the need, he said, to assist private tertiary institutions to obtain funding, including the GETFund, and other resources for expansion in order to be able to adequately address the challenges that would emanate from  the graduation from the SHS system and their entry into the universities.

He also urged government to consider extending the Free and Compulsory Education Policy to the Junior High School (JHS) level in order to avert the situation of Ghanaian children “on the streets running after vehicles to sell pure water, chewing gums and other petty items.”

He recalled the pledge by government of a 65-seater bus each to Data Link and some eleven other private universities who formed what was now known as the Conference of Independent Universities (CIU).

Mr Ansah said all the other universities, except Data Link, had received their buses and urged government to redeem the pledge to Data Link Institute.

He appealed to the chiefs of Doryumu to protect the lands meant for the Institute’s permanent site and not to sell them off, expressing regrets that out of about 432 acres of land acquired from the chiefs, a huge slice had been lost to encroachers who, he said, nevertheless acquired these lands from the chiefs.

In a statement, the President of the Institute, Prof. Jacob Jonas Nortey, urged the graduates to pursue rightness in their communities by eschewing cheap popularity and the rampant struggle for self-aggrandizement that had become the order of the day.

Professor Nortey also charged them to continue to upgrade their knowledge and skills as knowledge acquisition had no end.

Data Link Institute, an affiliate of KNUST, is a tertiary institution that offers programmes leading to the award of degrees and certificates in various disciplines.

It also provides tuition for students interested in acquiring Ordinary and Advanced Diploma from external examination bodies and institutions.

The Institute, which takes its origin from Data Link Limited (DLL) which operated as a charitable educational enterprise, was founded in 1993 by Mr Ansah and Mrs Ingrid Ansah.

The Institute received authorization from the National Accreditation Board in 2006 to operate as a university college, with the right to provide tertiary education in Ghana.

The Institute has acquired a seven square mile piece of land near Doryumu along the Akosombo-Tema trunk road for the construction of a permanent campus, but in the interim, it operates on three campuses with the Tema campus as main while the Ho and Takoradi campuses serve as pre-universities only.

Source: ISD (Abu Mubarik & G.D. Zaney)