Despite protests by the university academic community and other stakeholders in education, the
Parliament of Ghana has taken the Public University Bill, 2020 through its Second Reading stage awaiting
consideration and its eventual passage into law before the 7 th Parliament is dissolved in January next
The Bill which is to provide for the establishment, governance arrangements and management of a
public university in the country has received a lot of opposition from university bodies and stakeholders
in education. This led to the suspension of the Bill in Parliament prior to the 2020 elections for further
consultations to be undertaken with stakeholders.
However, the Bill is back to Parliament after the elections and it is receiving rapt attention before the
December 22 deadline where the House is expected to rise for recess to close the year and mark the end
of the fourth session of the seventh Parliament of the fourth Republic of Ghana.
Stakeholders claim that they have not been consulted since the reintroduction of the Bill to Parliament.
The Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu, informed the House that his side would not fully
support the passage of the Bill until proper consultations are done with relevant stakeholders.
He read out some petitions which had been submitted by the University Teachers Association of Ghana,
the Graduate Students Association of Ghana (GRASAG), and the University of Ghana SRC which
suggested that the key stakeholders have indeed not been properly consulted and wanted some further
and better particulars concerning the Bill.
“Mr. Speaker, these are stakeholders who are affected by the Bill, and therefore an assurance from the
Minister for Education that they would be thoroughly engaged and the report of their engagement
submitted to Parliament, other than that, we are unable to support this Bill.
“We want the legitimate concerns of the university lecturers, teachers, and students in the governance
of the Public Universities be appropriately covered as we proceed further on this Bill,” said the Minority
But the Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, contented that the petitions read out by
Minority Leader is not a true representation of the concerns of the university lecturers in all the 26
Public universities of the country but rather the concerns of only the University of Ghana UTAG.
“Mr. Speaker, all the three letters come from the University of Ghana. It is not UTAG national that is
writing. And the name he mentioned, Samuel, is the President of UTAG, University of Ghana. The
current President of UTAG is Mr. Quarshie Marfo of KNUST. Mr. Speaker, I want to put on record that
this petition only came from the University of Ghana. There are 26 Public Universities who are not
affected by this letter.”
According to the Minister, there has already been consultations with the stakeholders and that the
letters read out from the stakeholders was only to inquire information on the status of the Bill and not
for a protest for no consultations done.
“Mr. Speaker, if you even read the title of the request that they brought, it is just for information on the
status. They have never said they have not been consulted,” he said.
Critics were of the view that key provisions of the Bill pointed to government’s attempt to interfere in
the internal affairs of universities by toying with the composition of the university council among others,
which will then undermine university autonomy and stifle academic freedom.
The Public University Bill, 2020, made up of 56 clauses divided into five sections, was initially introduced
to Parliament in April 2020 by the Minister for Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh. It was
withdrawn on October 27 and re-introduced on November 3 before the House shut down on November
7 for the general elections.
Presenting the Education Committee report for the second reading of the Bill on Tuesday, December 15,
2020, Committee Chairman, William Agyapong Quaittoo said, “the objective is to ensure that the
governance frame works in respect of appointment of the Governing Council, membership of the
Council, tenure of members of the Council, appointment of Chancellor and Council Chairperson, among
others, are consistent, notwithstanding the peculiar differences in the mandate and missions of the
respective public universities.”
According to the observations by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education, the fundamental
objective of the Bill is to make the management and operations of public universities more efficient and
effective, and also relevant to the current realities by ensuring that all the different legislations giving
effect to the existence and operations of the various public universities in the country are harmonized
and consolidated into a single legal framework that prescribes common governance arrangements for all
Some critical matters relating to the appointment of the Governing Council, membership of the Council,
tenure of office of members of the Council, appointment of the Chancellor and the Council Chairperson
is to be standardized across all public universities accordingly.
Clause 38 of the Bill makes provision for a public university to operate on two sets of statutes namely:
Standardized Statutes; and Localized Statutes. The Standardized Statutes is the principal governing
instrument for public universities and shall regulate, among others, matters relating to the
appointments and termination of appointments, persons who constitute the academic staff of the
public university, persons authorized to sign contracts, cheques and other documents on behalf of the
university and academic calendar of the public university.
The Localized Statutes provide the framework and direction for the internal governance of a public
university, taking into account the specific mandate and peculiar context of that public university. In
furtherance of this, Clause 30 of the Bill empowers the university Council to make arrangement as it
deems appropriate within the confines of the Act, to give effect to the internal organization of a public
The Council is also empowered to make internal governance arrangements in respect of award of
professorship and promotion of lecturers, appointment and promotion of administrative staff,
conferment of honorary degrees and other awards as well as promotion of professional development,
Source: Clement Akoloh||parliamentnews360.com