KEYNOTE ADDRESS






The theme of this forum, “Developing and Retaining the Next Generation of Academics”, is
as relevant today as it was in the immediate post-independence era when most African
Universities were in their formative years.

University Education in Africa- A historical Perspective
       The idea of modern University education in Africa dates back to the 19th century. The
agitation of indigenous Africans for university education was most intense in West Africa. In
1871, Christian Missionaries in Sierra Leone wrote to Henry Venn, a Church Missionary
Society (CMS) visionary leader, to call for a launch of university education in Fourah Bay
College, then a theological seminary in Sierra Leone. In 1876 Fourah Bay College was
affiliated to Durham University in England. Around the same period, one Dr. James
Africanus Horton, a Sierra Leonean Military Surgeon, suggested the beginnings of medical
education in Sierra Leone, with preliminary courses in Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry and
Biology. J.E. Casely-Hayford of the Gold Coast, (now Ghana) in a book entitled Ethiopia
Unbound, also advocated the establishment of a National University that would be
       “A University thoroughly conscious of, and adapted to its environment, but
       simultaneously maintaining an international standard”.
He envisaged that such a university would also love and promote African languages, customs
and institutions. In the French and Portuguese territories however, except for the College
William Ponty in Dakar, which offered education beyond secondary level, the French and
Portuguese education systems in West Africa did not advocate or encourage local initiative in
higher education. The University of Liberia started in 1851 as a College for returned slaves,
but did not become a university in the modern sense until 1951.
       By far the fiercest drive for university education in Africa took place in the then Gold
Coast, with the establishment in 1927 of Achimota College. But when Governor Guggisberg
suggested in 1927 that Achimota College should be linked with London University, the Gold
Coast Education Advisory Committee rejected the idea. They however agreed to the College
adopting the University of London Matriculation and Intermediate Examinations. It also
embarked on University courses to prepare students for the external intermediate
examinations of London University in arts, science and engineering, and the London External
Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering.
       At the 1939 Conference of British West African Governors the Colonial Government
decided that there should be only one University in the whole of West Africa to be based in

Ibadan. This proposal generated considerable furore, anger and vehement protests all over the
British West African colonies, particularly Sierra Leone and the then Gold Coast. The people
of the Gold Coast made it unequivocally clear to the Colonial Government in 1946 that they
totally rejected the proposal, and that they would build their own university that they
themselves would finance. This is what eventually led to the establishment of the University
College of the Gold Coast, which preceded the British Government-supported University of
Ibadan by only a few weeks, in August 1948.1 The farmers of the Gold Coast paid a levy of
2s. 6d (two shillings and six pence) on each load of cocoa to enable the people of the Gold
Coast establish their University. The cocoa levy yielded an amount of approximately
£897,000. The University College of the Gold Coast, which was affiliated to the University
of London, was eventually opened for classes on 11th October 1948 by the then Governor, Sir
Gerald Creasey, with 92 foundation students including 2 females, to provide degree courses
in the humanities, agriculture and the sciences. Three years later, in 1951, the Kumasi
College of Technology, which eventually became the Kwame Nkrumah University of
Science and Technology, was also established, and affiliated to London University.
         The growth of universities in Eastern and Southern Africa was not as rapid as it was
in West Africa. Except for South Africa which had 11 Universities that predated 1960, mostly
meant for the white minority, and a Technical Institute in Kenya which eventually grew to
become a component unit in the University of East Africa, and finally Nairobi University, the
only other University in East Africa whose age predates the country’s independence is
Makerere in Uganda (if one regards Sudan as not being part of Eastern Africa).
         Most of the current African Universities therefore date only from the post
independence era, from 1960. Today there are over five hundred Universities and other
tertiary institutions all over Africa. The most established ones are all members of the
Association of African Universities. As at November 2008, the AAU had a total membership
of 212, of which 115 are fully paid-up members in good standing. These are distributed as
         North Africa 33
         West Africa 64
         Central Africa 20
         East Africa 53

 If one considers that sixty years on, Nigeria alone has over 90 universities and over thirty polytechnics, of of
which are oversubscribed, then one can understand how myopic the colonial government’s decision in 1939

        Southern Africa 42
For the best part of their existence, many of these universities have operated as institutions
training mainly undergraduate students, with post-graduate studies relatively underdeveloped.
Before independence most African countries’ public and civil services were manned by civil
servants from the so-called “mother country”. The universities that were established in the
post-independence era therefore had to concentrate mainly on training the requisite
manpower urgently required to take over the manning of the public services in the immediate
post-independence era. It is to the credit of these pioneer universities that within less than ten
years after independence, virtually the entire public service and even some key specialised
industrial and infrastructural setups were totally manned by graduates of these new African
universities, and this has been the case over the past forty years. (Give Akosombo example).
African universities have therefore contributed immensely to the advancement of their
respective countries, and need to be commended. They have achieved all these in the face of
extreme difficulties. They have been very resilient against considerable odds. Some have
even been able go further against these odds to establish credible scientific and other research
institutions that can measure up to world standards, and which are tackling problems relevant
to their respective countries.

But after forty years or more of these universities operating virtually as “higher or glorified
vocational institutions”, it is about time they began to think in terms of transforming
themselves into credible research institutions capable of standing on their own within the
comity of world universities. Times have changed and the type of personnel required to be
trained is not just those required by the public services

The Problem
In February 1999, under the auspices of the Association of African universities (AAU) a
conference of Rectors, Vice Chancellors and Presidents of African Universities (COREVIP)
was organised in Arusha Tanzania, with the theme “Revitalising Universities in Africa:
Strategies for the 21st Century”. The main objective of the conference was to deliberate on the
key challenges facing African universities and appropriate strategies to approach these
challenges during the 21st century. The conference was appropriately organised on the eve of
the 21st century. Issues dealt with included

   i.      Quality and academic standards

   ii.     Funding and related issues
   iii.    Institutional governance
   iv.     Access and quality
   v.      Human resource
   vi.     Cooperation in graduate training and research
   vii.    ICT and globalisation
   viii.   Gender issues including access, quality and relevance

The conference was also meant to facilitate a debate on what Africa needs to inject into its
universities in order to accomplish their role as providers of high quality manpower and new
knowledge critical for Africa’s development in the 21st century.

It is now almost nine years into the 21st century. On the eve of the end of the first decade of
this century, it is only apt that as leaders of African Universities, we meet to reappraise what
has been achieved during this first decade, what other challenges remain to be addressed, and
how to address these challenges.

Human Resource Development and retention in African Universities:
Human resource development and retention in African Universities during the past forty to
sixty years can be categories into three main periods.

(i) 1948 to 1970: was the period of intensive staff development. At their foundation most
African universities were staffed mainly by expatriate staff. University of Ghana for example
started in 1948 with 18 Academic staff, only two of whom were Ghanaians, one chemist and
one botanist. Only the chemist had a PhD degree from London University. The Botanist, with
a first degree from Cambridge, unfortunately died in a car accident within 24 hours of
assuming duty. Only five of the expatriate staff had PhDs. By the following year, the total
staff had grown to 24 still with only 2 being Africans, one Ghanaian and one Sierra Leonean
(in mathematics). African universities therefore had to embark upon massive staff
development by sending their brightest students overseas for post-graduate training on
scholarships offered either by the universities themselves from their resources, or by
government. Initially, salaries and conditions of service were very attractive, and many of
Africa’s brightest sons and daughters were keen to opt for academic careers. In Ghana for
example, I recall that in the early 1950s lecturers were being paid more than Deputy

Ministers in government. The incentive to return after graduate training was therefore very
strong. However, when some of these post graduates returned from overseas universities
with PhDs in the early 1950s, mainly from Oxford, Cambridge and London, they were
surprisingly initially engaged as Assistant lecturers while their European counterparts with
masters or even first degrees wee appointed lecturers. This immediately started to breed
discontent among the African staff and they protested loudly. Fortunately, Nkrumah
immediately intervened to rectify the situation.

1970-1990: This is the period when frustrations began to set in, and the mass exodus of
highly trained academic and administrative staff to seek greener pastures elsewhere became
very intense. Many students who were sent overseas to be trained at public expense simply
refused to return because they had realised that facilities for research and advancement of
their careers were simply non-existent. Salaries for University staff had become extremely
low in real terms. The proliferation of military coups d’êtat, particularly in West and Central
Africa, did not help either. There was an intense dislike for academics both by these military
regimes and even sections of the population. In some countries some academics even paid the
ultimate price with their lives for daring to stand up for academic freedom and excellence.
Academic careers became less and less attractive, and universities wee plagued with
incessant closures due to strikes by lecturers for better salaries and conditions of service.

1990-2000: this is the period when many African Universities simply said enough is enough,
and told Governments in no uncertain terms that they could no longer sit idly by and see their
various universities deteriorate beyond recognition. Notwithstanding considerable resistance
from various quarters, including politicians and students, some universities were able to push
through fundamental changes that revitalised their programmes and began to make academic
careers a little more attractive once again. That is when I made my now famous declaration
which some say changed the paradigm for university reform and financing in Ghana, that
"You cannot run universities on Government promises” This is when many governments
finally accepted the principles of cost-sharing, and also established various funding
mechanisms such as the Ghana Education Trust Fund in Ghana, to revitalise tertiary
education in particular, and education in general.

With many African universities now embarking on major reforms and strategic planning and
innovation, it is time for them now to confront the challenges they will face in training the

future generation of academics, and retaining them. This is not going to be easy, as the
challenges are many and varied. I shall attempt to highlight a few of these, which I hope will
provide some grounds for your subsequent deliberations.

Human Resource Development:
One major challenge that needs to be urgently addressed if African universities are to fulfil
their roles as the main engines for training appropriate and adequate personnel for a country’s
development is human resource development. Human resources for economic and social
development depend critically on education, especially tertiary education. The following two
quotations which are very relevant to the African situation clearly underline this challenge.
       i.      The poorest developing countries in the world lack many things; good
               sanitation systems, effective transportation systems and capital
               investment for agriculture and industry. However, the best use of
               investment funds may not be for bridges, sewer systems and roads but for
               human capital and education. (1998; O’Sullivan and Sheffrin- Economics,
               Principles and Tools)[8].
       ii.     Building technological capacity in developing countries is central to
               forging long-term solutions because technologies for development have
               not, cannot and will not be supplied through the global marketplace
               alone. Though the past 20 years have seen an important rise in research
               excellence in some developing countries, others still lack adequate
               research and development capacity. Without it, they cannot adapt freely
               available global technologies to their needs-let alone set their own
               research agendas for new innovations. Inadequate national policies are
               partly responsible, BUT THE LOSS OF HIGHLY SKILLED
               MIGRANTS, the lack of supporting global institutions and unfair
               implementation of global trade rules create additional barriers. (United
               Nations Human development Report, 2001). [10].
These two quotations clearly define the role of higher education in the economic
advancement of any African country. Notwithstanding this, until recently, the World Bank
held the notion that primary education was the key to development in the developing
countries, and virtually tried to ram this policy down the throats of many countries to
concentrate on primary education. Much as it was desirable to ensure that every child in a
developing country, and indeed in the whole world, received adequate basic education, this

World Bank policy was unfortunately pursued by many countries at the expense of tertiary
education. This is why in 1989 World Bank spending to African Universities dropped
drastically from 17 percent of the Bank’s education budget to just 7 percent. This affected
both enrolment and academic research, and only fuelled the search for greener pastures
elsewhere by highly trained and experienced academic staff.

It took quite an effort by several university leaders and educationists who were at the helm of
university management during the period 1990 to 2000 to convince first our own
governments, and then the World Bank, to eventually realise that that policy was a
retrogressive one, and that even rudimentary primary education critically depended on sound
tertiary education. To produce good trained teachers for the primary schools, teacher training
colleges or colleges of education need to be established. These colleges will require trained
graduate teachers, preferably with post-graduate qualifications, to train the school teachers.
The tutors at the colleges of education are of necessity trained at the tertiary institutions.
Therefore one cannot talk of good universal basic education if the tertiary institutions are in
disarray. Unfortunately the World Bank policy nearly resulted in just this outcome in many
African countries, and there was considerable deterioration in many tertiary institutions due
to diversion of funding to the primary level. Many universities in Africa are still grappling
with the consequences of this policy.

No African university can afford to go through the same kind of deterioration that universities
experienced during the last two decades of the twentieth century. Indeed, in the preface to a
report by the Association of Commonwealth Universities entitled “Universities and
Development”, edited by Richard Bourne, the team that put the report together clearly stated
that their
        “frank analysis concludes that a country whose universities are allowed to
        decline is opting out of the development process at the start of the 21st century.
The same report goes on to say that
        It is now a truism that access to all (persons) to basic education is essential for a
        modern nation’s economic well being. But in the new “knowledge economy,
        driven by developments in information and communication technology such as
        the internet, there is a growing recognition of the vital role that higher education
        plays in socio-economic development. To fulfil their role, universities need to be
        committed to flexibility, quality and enterprise. They must also have the support

       of governments and community stakeholders. Higher education cannot be
       viewed as a luxury by developing countries- it is an economic necessity.
But if the tertiary institutions, particularly the universities must be able to meet these societal
expectations, then they need to be able to train the requisite personnel. To be able to do that,
the institutions themselves must also be staffed by the appropriate, relevant highly trained
personnel, and must have the requisite capacity to retain such personnel. This should include
adequate infrastructure, sustainable funding for teaching and research and attractive
conditions of service for staff.

Post-graduate Training and Staff Development in African Universities:
The flight of staff from many African universities particularly between 1980 and 1990
resulted in many universities relying heavily on persons with only masters degrees to teach.
Junior academics, some with PhDs and others without, were saddled too early in their careers
with mundane administrative responsibilities instead of being given the freedom and
wherewithal to develop their careers through research. This phenomenon considerably
affected research and the advancement of knowledge. Many African universities have
however come to realise the detrimental effects of this situation on quality assurance.

Following the report of a visitation committee which recently reviewed academic
programmes and other aspects of the governance structure of the University of Ghana, the
University recently decided that henceforth only persons with PhDs should be appointed
lecturers unless under special circumstances, when an MPhil holder could be appointed and
even in such a case only as an assistant lecturer. This is an excellent decision for several
reasons. Currently promotion and career advancement in the Ghanaian universities, (and I
believe, in universities worldwide), are based partly on teaching but mainly on research
output. Any university worth its salt must not only be known to be excellent in pedagogy, but
more importantly, must be internationally visible in its research output. African Universities
must opt out of the old mould of operating merely as “glorified vocational institutions
training personnel for the world of work”, and aim at growing into recognised research
universities capable of creating new knowledge and advancing the frontiers of science and
technology as well as the humanities. Such a goal will also enhance the quality of graduates
they put out into the world of work.

In the past, when non-PhD holders have been appointed lecturers, it has been very difficult
for such persons to settle down for any meaningful research programmes as a career. They
have sometimes had to teach for several years before going overseas to pursue a PhD
programme, and by the time they return, they have very few years left to work before
retirement, and they are unable to make any serious impact in research for career
advancement. Those who do not have the opportunity to work for their PhDs either locally or
overseas soon become frustrated, because their promotion and career advancement are
seriously compromised. The table below shows the profile of academic qualification of staff
of the two largest Ghanaian universities. The table shows that in the University of Ghana the
percentage of teaching staff with doctorate degrees is 46.8% while the corresponding
percentage at KNUST is 39.9. Masters degree holders constitute 42.1 percent at the
University of Ghana while they constitute 56.7 percent at KNUST.

University Gender Doctorate                             Masters        Others     Total
UG*        Total  405 (0)                               479 (115)      109 (13)   993 (128)
           Male   324 (0)                               338 (79)         90 (5)   752 (84)
           Female  81 (0)                               141 (36)         19 (8)   241 (44)
KNUST      Total  293                                   416            25         734
           Male   264                                   363            24         651
           Female 29                                    53             1           83

*Administrative and professional staff in parenthesis

University Doctorate (%) Masters (%) Others (%) Total (%)
UG         46.82         42.08       11.10      100
KNUST      39.9          56.7        3.4        100

         Teaching Staff by qualification- UG
                    and KNUST




    30                                                    UG


         Doct orat e (%)   Mast ers (%)   Ot hers (%)

The percentage of administrative and professional staff with Doctorates, masters and other
qualifications in the University of Ghana are 0%, 89.8% and 10.2 % respectively. I believe
the same situation of a high percentage of teaching staff being non-PhD holders applies to
most other African Universities.

It is therefore a step in the right direction for the universities to aspire to raise the percentage
of PhD holders on their various staff. Such persons can strengthen the academic output of the
universities through research and the training of post graduates for future academic careers in
the universities and the outside world of work.

The need for trained personnel beyond the first degree level, not only for the universities, but
also for the public and private sectors is indeed becoming greater and greater. For example,
financial institutions are increasingly crying for scientists, mathematicians and engineers with
post graduate training in various aspects of management to man the increasingly complex
world of international finance and economic development. Such people can only be trained in
the universities if the universities themselves have the requisite trained personnel. This is why
the decision by the University of Ghana is in the right direction. But the decision has serious
implications. It presupposes that the university has all the requisite infrastructure and
personnel to ensure that it can train most of its own people to the highest level, and not
continue to send its students abroad for such post graduate training, which has not been the
most cost-effective approach in the recent past.

Currently, the enrolment of post-graduate students in Ghana’s universities is extremely low.
The table below shows the current situation for the 2007/2008 Academic year.

Institution                      Programme     Enrolment Percentage of
                                                         total enrolment
University of Ghana              Cert/diploma 1740       6.02
                                 First Degree  25,356    87.68
                                 Post Graduate 1824      6.31
                                 Total         28,920    100
KNUST                            Cert/diploma 97         0.41
                                 First Degree  22,031    92.31
                                 Post Graduate 1,738     7.28
                                 Total         23,866    100
Univ. of Cape Coast              Cert/diploma 272        1.62
                                 First Degree  16,169    96.04

                           Post Graduate             394         2.34
                           Total                     16,835      100
Univ. of Education Winneba Cert/diploma              276         1.79
                           First Degree              14,666      95.37
                           Post Graduate             434         2.82
                           Total                     15,378      100
Univ. for Dev. Studies     Cert/diploma              128         1.62
                           First Degree              7,721       97.85
                           Post Graduate             42          0.53
                           Total                     7,891       100
Univ. of Mines and Tech    Cert/diploma              36          3.32
                           First Degree              921         85.04
                           Post Graduate             126         11.63
Total                      Total                     1,083       100
TOTAL                      Cert/diploma              2,549       2.71
                           First Degree              86,866      92.44
                           Post Graduate             4,558       4.85
                           Total                     93,973      100

Universities of Ghana: Enrolment percentages at various levels
      Cert/Dipl           First Degree        Post Graduate
UG    6.02                87.68               6.31
KNUST 0.41                92.31               7.28
UCC   1.62                96.04               2.34
UEW   1.79                95.37               2.82
UDS   1.62                97.85               0.53
UMaT  3.32                85.04               11.63
TOTAL 2.71                92.44               4.85

        Universities of Ghana Percentage enrolment at
           various levels. 2007-2008 academic year

       40                                                TOTAL
            Cert/Dipl   First Degree     Post

                Universities of Ghana. percentage enrolment at different



          60                                                                 Cert/Dipl

          40                                                                 First Degree
                                                                             Post Graduate

                  UG       KNUST UCC        UEW     UDS      UMaT    TOTAL

               Universites of Ghana. Percentage enrolment at
                           different course levels

    80                                                              UG
    60                                                              UCC
    20                                                              UMaT
               Cert/Dipl     First Degree   Post Graduate

Let us compare the above situation with what obtains in say the University of Manchester in
the UK. In that university post-graduate students constitute over 33 percent of the total
student population of 34,000 from 150 different countries. The Academic staff are 2000,
There are an additional 1200 research staff, and 12,000 graduate students to assist in research.
This contrasts with only 873 teaching staff for 28,000 students in the University of Ghana,
734 for 23,866 students for KNUST and 535 for 16,835 for UCC. The Ghana situation is
therefore certainly unsatisfactory, but I believe may be is even better than what obtains in
many other African countries. Notwithstanding these low staff/student ratios, Government
finds it difficulot to pay attractive compensation packages to these lecturers to attract more
bright students into academic careers. More seriously, most of the postgraduate students are
pursuing masters degrees, with very few of them working for PhD degrees. For example in
the University of Ghana, only 120 (6.61 percent) of the 1824 post graduate students are
studying for their PhDs while 1692 (93.17 percent) are pursuing masters degree (MA, MFA,

MBA MPhil and MPA) programmes. Of this number, 376 or 20.6 percent are pursuing
masters in business Administration while only 176 are pursuing master’s programmes in
science. Similarly, at the KNUST only 106 out of the 1738 post-graduate students are
pursuing PhD programmes, and of this number, only 41 are in the sciences, Engineering and
Architecture. The need to intensify postgraduate training in African universities cannot
therefore be overemphasised if they are to fulfil their objective of training enough academics
and retaining them.

Currently Research Master’s degree (MPhil or MSc) programmes in the universities of Ghana
officially take two years while non-researched post-graduate programmes (MSc, MA, MFA
or diplomas) take twelve months. The first year is devoted to course work and the second
year to research and the writing of a thesis. A PhD programme officially takes three years
after the M.Phil. However, a student on an MPhil programme can be converted to a PhD
programme if in the opinion of the department, the Faculty and the School of Graduate
Studies, upon the recommendation of the supervisor, the candidate has done considerable
work during the first research year which, with a little more effort can earn a PhD degree in
two extra years. This can cut the period for earning a PhD after the first degree, from a
minimum of five years to a minimum of four years. This provision has been effectively used
by some of the science departments. In general however, the reality is that due to several
factors including lack of facilities, ineffective supervision, lack of adequate funding,
unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks that make it very difficult for both students and
supervisors to run research programmes smoothly, and a lackadaisical approach to their own
research work, majority of graduate students are unable to complete an MPhil programme in
the stipulated two years, and rarely are PhD programmes completed in the stipulated three
years. Because of the lack of adequate financial support in the form of scholarships to the
students and the low level of financial support from government subventions, especially for
science students, on the average, a student can take up to four years to complete an MPhil
degree programme and up to seven years after that to complete a PhD programme. Many of
the students take up part-time jobs outside to earn extra money, and do not concentrate on
their research.

The current educational structure in Ghana is such that most students graduate between the
ages of 22 and 26. In a worst case scenario, assuming that a student graduated at age 24, did a
year’s national service, and returned immediately to the university after national service at

age 25 for an MPhil programme, and followed this up just a year after the M Phil with a PhD
programme, under the current prevailing conditions, such a student could easily be over
thirty five years old by the completion of the PhD programme. He will therefore have a
maximum of just about twenty five years of working life as a university lecturer and
researcher before the compulsory retirement age of 60. With the sort of salaries received by
universities and the nature of the pension scheme which depends on the number of working
years during which the person would have contributed to the superannuation scheme, very
few people will like to go through such a programme to become academics. Moreover, by the
time such a person is able to settle down to any meaningful research that will enhance their
career prospects, they will be near fifty years. When then can they progress to professorial
grades and enhance the quality of research in their respective departments? No wonder the
staff pyramid of a number of universities is so skewed towards a high percentage of staff
(58.75%) at the lecturer grade, many of whom remain at this grade for several years, as well
as an unacceptable number of lecturers with only MPhil degrees.

Ranks of Full-Time Teaching Staff in Public Universities by Institution, Public
Universities of Ghana 2007/2008 Academic Year. (Percentages in parenthesis)

Univ.      Prof.       Ass. Prof.    Sen. Lect.    Lect.         Asst.        Tutor       Total
UG     75(8.59) 129(14.78) 260(29.78) 409(46.84)                  0             0        873
KNUST  24(3.26) 50(6.81) 150(20.43) 510(69.48)                    0             0        734
UCC    13(3.17) 45(10.98) 86(20.98) 266(64.88)                    0             0        410
UMAT    3(5.26)   2(3.51)   13(22.81)  39(68.42)                  0             0         57
UDS     2(0.73)   3(1.09)   18(6.57)  167(60.95)                  0           84(30.66) 274
UEW     8(2.72) 18(6.12)    62(21.09) 167(56.80)                 23(7.82)     16(5.44)   294
TOTAL 125(4.73) 247(9.35) 589(22.29) 1558(58.97)                 23(0.87)     100(3.79) 2642

         Universities of Ghana. Teaching Staff by Rank- 2007/2008.
                          Percentages. Total 2642

                                                                    Ass. Prof.
                                                                    Sen. Lect.
         20                                                         Lect.

          0                                                         Asst. Lect.
                            TOTAL                                   Tutor

         Universities of Ghana. Teaching Staff by rank-
           2007/2008. Absolute numbers. Total 2642


  1200                                                Prof.
  1000                                                Ass. Prof.
                                                      Sen. Lect.
                                                      Asst. Lect.
   400                                                Tutor


Let me use my own experience as an example of the ideal situation, which in the fifties and
sixties was the norm rather than the exception that it is today. I entered the university at the
age of twenty after sixth form, and by age 25, had both my bachelors and masters degrees.
Even before my master’s degree thesis had been approved, I had already gained admission to
the University of Cambridge for my PhD. I completed my PhD programme in the stipulated
three years, and returned to Ghana exactly three years after my departure from Ghana to
Britain (21st September 1967 to 20th September 1970). I therefore started my full academic
career with a PhD degree at the age of 28. And we were many such young lecturers on the
staff at that time. What is the current situation in our universities? The age profile of
university staff in the country is such that very soon there will have to be mass replacement

of staff due to retirement. In the meantime most of the universities will continue to rely on the
continued service of retired staff on contract or teaching part-time. Renewal at the lower age
level is rather slow. The table below shows the current situation.

Age profile of Teaching and Administrative Staff in the Public Universities of Ghana-
University                   Below 30     31-40   41-50     51-60   Above 60   Total
Univ. of Ghana Total         9            229     341       304     110        993
               Male          7            159     259       233     94         752
               Female        2            70      82        71      16         241

              Univ e rsity of Ghana-Age Profile of Se nior
                    Acade mic and Admin Staff-2007



   250                                                        Univ. of Ghana Total

                                                              Univ. of Ghana Male
                                                              Univ. of Ghana
   100                                                        Fem ale


           Below 31-40    41-50   51-60   Above
            30                             60

             Below 30             31-40   41-50     51-60   Above 60   Total
KNUST Total  2                    143     263       189     91         688
      Male   2                    118     230       172     86         608
      Female 0                    25      33        17      5          80

      KNUST Age Profile of Academic Staff. 2007. Total

    150                                                     KNUST Total
                                                            KNUST Male
                                                            KNUST Female
              Below 31-40   41-50 51-60   Above
               30                          60

                    Below 30 31-40 41-50 51-60 Above 60 Total
UCC Total           13       99    202   146   75       535

              UCC Age Profile of Academic and Admin Staff.
                             2007 total 535



   150                                                               UCC Total
                                                                     UCC Male
                                                                     UCC Female

             Below 30   31-40   41-50     51-60    Above 60

             Below 30             31-40    41-50    51-60     Above 60     Total
UMaT. Total  3                    18       20       16        2            59
      Male   2                    15       18       15        2            52
      Female 1                    3        2        1         0            7

        Univ of Mines and Tech. Age profile of Academic
              and Sen Admin Staff. 2007. Total 57



       10                                              UMaT. Total
                                                       UMaT. Male
                                                       UMaT. Female
            Below   31-40   41-50   51-60 Above
              30                           60

If therefore the Universities in Ghana, and for that matter any other universities in Africa, are
to meet their manpower requirements and also make it possible for new lecturers with
doctorate degrees to have a full and fulfilling academic career, then not only should they
ensure that facilities are on the ground to enable students complete their higher degrees up to
PhD levels at worst before age 35, but ideally by age 30, and preferably locally. They can
then undertake post-doctoral programmes overseas at an appropriate time to enhance their
capabilities and then return to continue with their careers.

Research, Publication and Academic Journals:
Research and the training of the next generation of academics in Africa cannot be divorced
from the existence of appropriate avenues for dissemination of research results. Currently
promotions in academia are based mainly on research publications. Quality of publications is
linked to the quality and reputation of the medium of publication. Currently, most of the
reputable journals are based in the developed countries, and are usually not keen on
publishing work that may be absolutely crucial or relevant in a local African setting, but may
be considered as “not being of adequate universal interest”. But whose relevance must be
paramount when it comes to African problems? How “International is a Faculty-based journal
in a university in Finland when compared with say the East African Medical Journal or the
Journal of the Pharmaceutical Society of West Africa?” Yet for promotion purposes, it will
not be surprising if an African university gives greater weight to an article published in the
Finnish journal than in the East or West African Journal. This means that African universities
must themselves try and grow their own journals that are of a high enough quality to meet
international standards of scholarship while at the same time catering for local needs and
relevance. The journals must be both global and local in content and quality. In this regard

several laudable attempts have been made in many countries to do just that. There are quite a
few highly reputable journals of international standard currently catering for African and
even international academic interests. But for various reasons, very few of these journals
have been sustainable or survived. Generally, many of the journals on offer are of very poor
quality. Proof reading is usually very poor. Peer review of articles is poor, and some articles
can take up to five years after acceptance before they get published. In an editorial/opinion of
the Nigerian newspaper “The Guardian” (in 2003-2005), entitled “The Quality of Academic
Journals”, the editorial reports that a survey by the Nigerian National Universities
Commission showed that out of 138 Nigerian journals submitted for assessment, only four
qualified to be regarded as being of acceptable international standard. The editorial goes on
further to raise several very pertinent issues about journals and research publication, and
makes some valuable recommendations. For example it says that

       “The yardstick for assessing a journal should not be determined by foreign
       parameters. That a journal is published abroad does not make it superior to locally
       produced ones. What assessors should be concerned with is the calibre of persons
       behind the journal and the academic rigour which the papers have gone through
       before publication.
I think that editorial is a must-read for every academic. I shall make copies available to
participants through the organising committee as a contribution to subsequent discussions. I
shall also quote the entire editorial in the final version of my paper for broader dissemination.

Financing and Supporting Research for Staff Development and Retention:
If African universities are to be able to train adequate numbers of academics in a cost-
effective manner, then locally-based post-graduate research should be the preferred
predominant option. But for this to be possible there should be the requisite facilities and
infrastructure on the ground so that both research students and staff do not get frustrated. It is
true that the bottom line for ensuring staff retention is good salaries and attractive conditions
of service. But in academic life, it is equally true that sometimes the absence of good teaching
and research facilities can be a greater source of disenchantment and a catalyst for low
morale and hence exodus of staff, than mere financial considerations. Governments should
therefore realise that their universities can only grow and achieve excellence if they are well
supported financially in teaching and research. As has been said in a report entitled
“Revitalising Universities in Africa, Strategy and Guidelines,

       Universities without research activities run the risk of becoming glorified secondary
       schools. They are unable to generate new knowledge for themselves, academia and
       the country. They are unable to produce the stream of academic staff candidates
       necessary to sustain the university enterprise. And they are unable to teach students
       essential analytical and problem-solving skills. In the long run, governments neglect
       university research capacity at the cost of future development possibilities. Capacity
       building in university research is therefore a fundamental element for the
       revitalisation of African universities
But in most African countries, the annual subvention given to universities to operate makes it
extremely difficult to run even undergraduate programmes, let alone have surplus for
research. Young academic staff usually do not have the requisite track record to be able to
write grant-winning proposals and compete for research grants on a global or even regional
scale to enable them do any meaningful research. This affects their academic progression and
career advancement. If there is no senior professor in the department who is ready and willing
to mentor these younger ones, frustration soon sets in. Those who choose to soldier on soon
find that career advancement is becoming more and more difficult. Those who want to
advance their careers simply leave the country. But why should they not do so, when the
annual subvention to our various faculties is nothing to write home about. The figures below
represent what government has been giving to the Faculty of Science of the University of
Ghana over the past few years.

YEAR           AMOUNT     (GH¢)
2001               16,000.00
2002               16,000.00
2003               16,000.00
2004               15,700.00
2005               14,700.00
2006               14,800.00
2007               14,800.00
2008               Not yet released

In effect the Faculty of Science, comprising about 18 Departments and institutes, has been
receiving for the past nine years, just about the equivalent of 16,000 US dollars to run all its
programmes, including undergraduate teaching and graduate teaching and research. Staff who
have graduate students but do not have any research grants of their own are supposed to run
their programmes from this paltry sum. Therefore, if the Universities had not taken the bold
step of demanding some level of cost sharing, one can imagine what would have been the

state of the universities now. It is this cost sharing and fees realised from this as well as other
activities that have made it possible for the universities’ faculties to operate at their current
reasonable though still grossly inadequate levels. The figures below show what the Faculty is
able to generate for its programmes, compared with what it gets from Government annually,
which is even always paid by instalments in arrears. From a modest sum of about 33,000
dollars, the faculty now obtains almost 300,000 dollars from these fees annually. The story is
the same in all the six pubic universities.


    YEAR               UNDER               GRADUATE              FOREIGN           TOTAL
                    GRADUATES               STUDENTS           STUDENTS           AMOUNT
                         GH¢                    GH¢                 GH¢
1999/2000           28,656.67              4,627.38             --------------    33,284.00
2000/2001           36,712.58              3,416.00            1,656.00           41,787.24
2001/2002           34,080.48              3,144.33            3,168.00           40,392.81
2002/2003           49,125.66              3,364.78            ---------------    52,777.45
2003/2004           59,835.52              2,395.53            8,439.00           70,670.00
2004/2005           84,534.00            ---------------     --------------       89,543.00
2005/2006          140,200.00            12,700.00               ------------    162,800.00
2006/2007          143,033.04            18,275.91           140,000.00          301,308.95
2007/2008          121,536.45            15,781.90           111,176.67          248,495.02
2008/2009          100,000.00            ADVANCE

And yet in this election year, all we hear from all the major political parties is how they are
going to make education free. Nobody talks about how this will be financed. Judging from
the current realities, I do not see how realising these promises can materialise.

The response by some universities to overcome this frustration and retain their young
academic staff has been to lower the criteria for promotion. But in many cases this has been
counterproductive and lowered the university’s own academic reputation. Research
publications that in the past could not even earn a lecturer promotion to senior lectureship are
now being used for graduating to the professorial grade in some African universities.

To me, the only way out is for governments to recognise that they owe their universities,
research institutes, and the country a duty to adequately finance and promote research,
especially for the younger academic staff. Sooner or later, they will be mature enough to
confidently look for or bid for research grants from other sources. Then can they also train
other graduate students and mentor other younger academics. This is one sure way of

ensuring that staff trained at public expense are retained, and the university enterprise
survives. Piecemeal research grants from donor agencies that normally have bureaucratic
strings attached and are few and far between, though useful, cannot provide any meaningful
and permanent answer to the problems of training and retaining staff. There is no short cut to
In this regard let me now look at the area of science and technology which is my own area,
and how current policies do not seem to promote excellence in S &T research and
development in many African countries.

        In recent times the importance of science and technology as the main tool for
economic and social development in Africa, has been emphasised in several major world
forums and documents. In February 2004, H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the
United Nations, was presented with a report entitled
        Inventing a Better Future: A Strategy for Building World-Wide Capacities
        in Science and Technology.
In that report, it was stated that
        “All nations, whether industrialised or developing, face a broad array of
        challenges that will require the application of up-to-date scientific knowledge
        and technology. No nation can now afford to be without access to a
        credible, INDEPENDENT science and technology (S&T) research
        capacity that would help it to develop informed policies and take effective
        action in these and other areas”.
In June of the same year, Mr. Kofi Annan commissioned another 265-page report
from the Inter-academy Council (IAC) and the Inter-academy Panel (IAP), entitled
        Realising the Promise and Potential of African Agriculture: Science and
        Technology Strategies for Improving Agricultural productivity and Food
        Security in Africa.
The comprehensive report clearly underlined the fact that no African country could
develop its agriculture, ensure food security and produce a surplus for export without
a massive and sustained infusion of human and material resources from science and
technology into agricultural production.
        Just before the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005, the Academies of Science
of the G8 countries issued a joint statement with the Network of Academies of Science of

Africa, on the role of Science and Technology in the development of Africa. The declaration
concluded that
       Without embedding science, technology and innovation in development, we fear
       that ambitions for Africa will fail.

       Another report was presented to the UN Secretary General in that same year entitled
“Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development
Goals”, and written by Jeffrey D. Sachs, the Director of the UN Millennium Development
Project. I will crave your indulgence to quote extensively from pages 48 to 49 of that report,
since what is contained therein strongly underpins why universities in Africa need to take
urgent steps to strengthen their scientific and technological education and research base if
Africa is to make any meaningful impact in its efforts to achieve the millennium development
goals. Here I quote
       Advances in Science and Technology allow society to mobilize new sources of energy
       and materials, fight disease, improve and diversify agriculture, mobilize and
       disseminate information, transport people and goods with greater speed and safety,
       limit family size as desired, and much more. But these technologies are not free. They
       are the fruits of enormous social investments in education, scientific discovery, and
       targeted technological projects.
       Every successful high income country makes special public investments to promote
       scientific and technological capacities. Unfortunately, poor countries have largely
       been spectators or at best, users of technological advance produced in the high-
       income world that are relevant. Poor countries have tended to lack large scientific
       and technological communities. Their scientists and engineers, chronically under-
       funded, move abroad for satisfying employment in scientific research and
       development. Private companies, moreover, focus their innovation activities on rich-
       country problems and projects, since that is where adequate financial returns exist.
       Any strategy to meet the (MD) goals requires a special global effort to build scientific
       and technological capacities in the poorest countries, both to help drive economic
       development and to help forge solutions to developing countries’ own scientific
       HIGHER EDUCATION. A special global effort is also required to direct research
       and development towards specific challenges facing the poor in diseases, climate,

       agriculture, energy and environmental degradation………..To address these most
       pressing scientific issues, direct public financing of research needs to increase”.

Writing on Science and Technology issues in the Association of Commonwealth Universities
report on “Universities and Development, Goverfdhan Mehta says and I quote

       Progress in science is the bedrock of technological advance and innovation.. All
       over the world, universities are the nurseries where science is nurtured and
       practiced. Many future technological advances will have to be directed towards
       finding innovative solutions for improving the quality of life, providing access to
       education and information, ensuring sustainable use of resources, stabilizing
       human population, preserving the environment, alleviating poverty and creating
       To cope with the challenges, sound scientific structures and a critical mass of
       trained manpower is essential. Universities should be the natural instruments
       through which socio-economic transformation, driven by science and technology,
       can be launched.

These are lofty ideals that cannot be questioned under any circumstances. But what is the
reality on the ground? Science and technology in virtually every African country today seems
to be relegated to a position of irrelevance, and is given mere cosmetic attention. The case in
Ghana is a typical example that illustrates how much attention to science and technology has
deteriorated over the years from the lofty ideals and major practical advancements that were
made in the immediate post independence era.

Science and technology for Africa’s development
       I believe most African Governments since independence have acknowledged in
principle, the pivotal role of Science and Technology in the economic and social development
of the Country. In Ghana the late First President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, is generally
recognised as the one who has been most unequivocal in his advocacy for Science and
Technology to be the major driving force for achieving rapid economic and social
development not only of Ghana but of the entire continent of Africa. He took several bold
initiatives towards the country’s scientific and technological advancement. S&T governance

was placed directly under him, and he also took full charge of the planning and
implementation of the country’s Development Plan. 2

The First Medium Term Development Plan (1997-2000) of the Ghana Vision 2020
Development Strategic Plan has a clear statement about industrialisation and human capital
development. In that document, it is stated that
       “Technology and technical expertise are critical factors influencing the success of
       small enterprises. Many entrepreneurs are either unfamiliar with new technologies or
       cannot afford to access appropriate levels of technology. This problem is often
       magnified by poor linkages between science and technology institutions and
       industry, lack of coordination amongst research institutions, inadequate funds for
       designing and developing marketable prototypes, and WEAKNESSES IN THE

       The “Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategies” which replaced Ghana’s vision 2020
development plan also purport to have science and technology as their main tool for

Science and Technology Governance
       As I have already said, during the first republic of Dr. Nkrumah, science and
technology matters were directly under the President, and all matters relating to planning
were also directly under him. The first time Ghana had a full Ministry devoted to science and
technology was in the 1979-1981 government of Dr. Hilla Limann, when the Ministry of
Industry Science and Technology was created, with full Cabinet status. Since then Science
and Technology have always been made appendages of some other Ministerial Portfolio.
From “Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology”, the country moved to Ministry of
Science and Technology, then to “Environment, Science and Technology” then to

           More than fifty years ago Kwame Nkrumah conceived the idea of setting up a
science park similar to what obtains in Raleigh in North Carolina, Warwick in England and
Silicon Valley, and actually acquired land for the project just a few kilometres from where
this conference is taking place. After his overthrow subsequent governments abandoned the
idea. It is only no that people are revisiting the idea. He started the construction of a National
Science Museum. The museum complex is still under construction forty two years after his

“Environment and Science”, with Technology appended to “Communications” as the
“Ministry of Communications and Technology”. Many well-meaning individuals and
institutions including the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences tried to draw Government’s
attention to the unsatisfactory manner S&T governance was being handled, and how this was
affecting morale within the scientific community The answer to these criticisms was the
complete disappearance of Technology from any Ministry, with the creation of the Ministry
of Communications and the retention of the Ministry of Environment and Science. Now we
have the Ministry of Environment and Science totally dismembered, and half of it
(environment) absorbed into the Ministry of Local Government and the other half (science)
absorbed into Education.
        These frequent permutations and combinations of Science and Technology certainly
cannot constitute the right governance structure for achieving the important objectives
enshrined in the millennium development goals. They will not allow any country to focus
adequately on science and technology as the major tool for economic development. The
GAAS made representations on this issue to the Council of State, which is the constitutional
advisory body to the President. This resulted in the two bodies preparing a joint
memorandum on the issue to Government. I was then the VP for the Sciences of the GAAS
and played a major role in preparing the joint memorandum with the Council of State to
Government on the issue. To-date we have received absolutely no response to the
memorandum, and the situation remains the same. I am sure this story about S&T governance
and its effects on development can be repeated in virtually every African country.

Training the Requisite S&T Personnel
       Educational institutions in the country, particularly at the tertiary level, including the
polytechnics, are confronted with limited capacity to enable them take advantage of the vast
potential created by globalisation in the knowledge market. Current trends seem to suggest
that our educational institutions, including those set up to promote science and technology
education, are drifting away from their assigned norms, and are not likely to achieve their
objectives. This could partly be attributed to the weak and fragmented governance structure
for science and technology. Table … shows the enrolment trend in the universities and

Table 3.4. Student enrolment in various disciplines in the universities and polytechnics.

              Universities                                                    Polytechnics
Year      Total         Sciences/     Arts/          Ratio       Sciences/   Arts/             Ratio
          enrolments Tech             Humanities     sci/hum.    Tech        Humanities        Sci/Hum.
1996/97   23,125         9,853        13,272         43:57       4,057        3,363            55:45
1997/98   26,684        11,048        15,636         41:59       5,122        4,820            52:48
1998/99   31,501        12,288        19,213         39:61       6,382        6,581            49:51
1999/00   36,221        16,045        20,176         44:56       7,874        9,082            46:54
2000/01   40,673        14,809        25,864         36:64       8,161       10,298            44:56
2001/02   46,188        16,650        29,534         36:64       9,117       11,325            45:54
2002/03   53,895        18,120        35,775         34:66       9,804       13,313            42:58
2003/04   63,576        21,341        42,235         34:66       9,908       14,445            41:59
2004/05   73,408        25,596        47,812         35:65       9,946       15,037            40:60
2005/06   84,087        29,623        54,455         35:65       8,747       15,917            35:65
2006/07   88445         33,395        55,050         38:62       9,137       19,558            32:68
2007/08   90451         35,401        58,572         39:61       10,289      24,159            30:70

       The official national norm is for the country’s universities overall to achieve a ratio of
60:40 science to humanities. However, in the universities the ratio seems to be skewed in the
opposite direction. From a ratio of 43:57 science to humanities in 1996/97, the ratio dipped to
34:66 in 2003/2004, and now hovers around 39:61. The case of the polytechnics is even
worse. Polytechnics are where a country’s critical human resources for middle level
technological services are trained. One would therefore expect that polytechnics would be
predominantly science and technology oriented, as is the case in the more advanced and
emerging economies. But the figures actually indicate that in this country the ratio of science
to humanities is skewed in favour of the humanities and is widening every year. From a ratio
of 55% science to 45 percent humanities in 1996/97, and instead of growing over the years
towards the national norm of 70:30 for the polytechnics, the ratio has rather been dwindling
every year and is, as at 2007/2008, at only 30 percent science to 70 percent humanities.
Indeed it has rather grown in the opposite direction. Similar trends are being seen in the
universities, particularly those set up specifically to train the scientific manpower of the
country. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and technology is believed to be
mandated to aspire towards a national norm of 90 percent science students. However, from a
ratio of 77% science to 23 % arts in 2000/01, the ratio has dwindled to 58 percent science to
42 percent humanities as at 2007/08. At this rate it is going to take the country a very long
time to achieve these norms and obtain the requisite critical mass of scientific and
technological personnel trained at the highest possible level that can transform the country’s
economy as envisaged by the various UN and other reports. To me this disturbing

development can be partly attributed to the incoherence in science policy resulting from the
poor governance structure and the frequent changes in portfolio.

   One can understand it if the rationale behind the Government’s incorporation of Science
into Education, is to lay emphasis on the training of adequate manpower in these areas to
support the various aspects of economic development that require adequate skilled
manpower. But unfortunately,
      The Education Ministry as currently constituted is already very big, with serious
       budgetary constraints. Adding Science to it has constrained resources going into that
       sector, and made science and technology an even more deprived orphan of other
      Science and technology permeates all ministries, from Trade and Industry through
       Roads, Railways and Harbours, Aviation and Space Technology, Environment,
       Energy, Agriculture, Health, etc. Dismembering Science and Technology into other
       ministries does not give the impression of a coherent and focused policy direction that
       will act as the necessary tool for any country’s rapid economic development.

I firmly believe that for African Universities to develop the requisite manpower, not only in
science and technology, but other aspects of development, their various governments need to
critically look at the governance structure for science and technology, and give science and
technology the necessary strength and direction that will enable it play the role that is
envisaged for it by their own people and the international community.
      Science and Technology should be given a higher profile and more effective
       governance structure than is presently the case. Ideally, there should be a separate
       Ministry for Science and Technology with full Cabinet status.
      However, whether Science and Technology is given a separate Ministry with Cabinet
       status or continues to be appended to another Ministry, it is suggested that every
       African President should have a Special Advisor on Science and Technology,
       independent of the Ministry responsible for science, and directly responsible to the

Commodification of Tertiary Education, Fake Universities and Fake Degrees

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen. Let me conclude this lecture with a discussion of
another major recent development that poses a threat and challenge to tertiary education and
the training of the next generation of intellectuals that African university leaders have to be
mindful of. This is the vigorous worldwide commodification of tertiary education being
spearheaded by the WTO, and uncontrolled proliferation of spurious degree and diploma
awarding institutions and the acquisition of false credentials and accreditation. The main
objective of these spurious institutions is simply to make quick money at the expense of
gullible individuals anxious to obtain any form of paper qualification that they believe will
open up fresh opportunities for them. It is not uncommon these days to come across people
whose educational backgrounds are nothing to write home about suddenly emerging with a
university degree or titles of Dr. or Professor only after a few months’ sojourn abroad. The
most popular degrees are Master’s degree in business administration, Degrees in Economics
and Finance, Doctorates in Divinity or Bible Studies, Information Technology and computer
Science. Even medicine has not been spared. A recent article by Professor George D. Gollin,
Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois and a member of the Board of Directors of
the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, deals comprehensively with this issue. The
article is published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. I crave your indulgence to permit
me to quote the whole article verbatim as the case concerns an African country, and cannot
be reported any better than using the exact words of Professor Gollin. The article is entitled
“Degree Mills: A Silent Crisis When Criminals Control the Ministry of Education”
(NUMBER 53, FALL 2008)

    The connection between education and personal economic advantage drives a global market
for higher education. But much of the world cannot create additional university capacity at a
rate to match this demand. Diploma mills, businesses that sell bogus degrees to customers in
search of easy credentials, comprise the dark response to these market forces. The recent

 George D. Gollin
George D. Gollin is professor of physics at the University of Illinois and a member of the
Board of Directors of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Address: Department
of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA. E-mail: g-

demise of a sophisticated American diploma mill provides some insight into these

Paying Bribes to Great Effect
In 2002, Richard Novak traveled to Washington DC to bribe a diplomat. Perhaps his
experience as a car salesman in Arizona served him well: he convinced Abdulah Dunbar, the
Liberian embassy's deputy chief of mission, to sell Liberian university accreditation to "St.
Regis University" for $2,250, considerably less than Dunbar's original demand for $4,000.
This first transaction opened a conduit through which Dixie and Steve Randock, the
American owners of the St. Regis diploma mill, began channeling payments and incentives to
Liberian officials.

At that time Liberia was still a year from the end of its bloody civil war. Mean life expectancy
was 38 years, and infant mortality was 15 percent. Much of Liberia's infrastructure had been
destroyed. Into this desperate landscape the Randocks pretended to insert three universities:
St. Regis, Robertstown, and James Monroe. Their Web sites invited customers to contact
Dunbar in Washington or Andrew Kronyanh at Liberia's embassy in Ghana, for verification
of the schools' legitimacy. All three mills claimed to be in Monrovia; a doctored campus
photograph showed a beautiful building in a pastoral setting. But this was really Blenheim
Palace, birthplace of the very English Winston Churchill.

Hijacking the Ministry of Education
Dunbar was dismissed from the Liberian embassy in June 2003, complicating his task of
vouching for St. Regis. The Randocks sent Novak and Dunbar to Africa two months later
"with the specific intent to carry out the appropriate tasks placing [Dunbar] into the
appropriate Liberian political office." The Randocks successfully achieved their ends:
Dunbar was returned to Washington a few months later as the embassy's chief of mission.

By the end of 2003 the Randocks had come to control the Ministry of Education's list of
recognized colleges and universities, as well as the content of the Liberian embassy's Web
site. Through their officially sanctioned "National Board of Education," they sold Liberian
accreditation directly to other diploma mills such as "Southern Pacific University" and
"American Coastline University." Liberian officials under their sway included senior
diplomats in at least two embassies, a minister of justice, a foreign minister, two successive

directors of Liberia's National Commission for Higher Education, and a number of other
diplomats and government officials, including several at the Ministry of Education.

You Too Can Own a University!
The following year the Randocks expanded their product line to include prefabricated
diploma mills, pitching them this way: "Do you want to make MILLION$ by owning your
own online school, college or university? OUR EXPERTS CAN HELP YOU DO IT!" They
informed prospective customers that their "expert consultants have established long term
relationships with the proper authorities, which will substantially shorten the time it would
normally take to establish a new school or to gain legitimate accreditation [for] your existing

In July 2005, Richard Novak flew to Washington DC to meet with three investors interested
in purchasing accreditation and other services for "Randolph Addison Davis Technical
University." Four hours into the meeting Abdulah Dunbar (the "proper authority," no doubt)
arrived to discuss his fee for services to be rendered. But the investors were actually United
States Secret Service agents and RADTU was a ruse.

The End of St. Regis
A month later federal, state, and local authorities raided the St. Regis enterprise, confiscating
computers and degree-making paraphernalia at seven sites in Arizona, Idaho, and
Washington state. By then the Randocks had sold thousands of degrees to customers all over
the world. They had even appropriated the name "Thomas Carper" (a US senator from the
state of Delaware) for the president of St. Regis. And the ministerial recognition of many of
the "universities" whose names the Randocks printed on diplomas was functionally
equivalent to that of the legitimate University of Liberia.

Richard Novak, the Randocks, and five other defendants were indicted in October 2005 on a
mix of criminal charges that included mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and bribery of
foreign officials. Kenneth Pearson, the St. Regis Web master, was indicted on additional
child pornography charges a few months later: the St. Regis servers also held thousands of
pornographic images. All eight defendants chose to plead guilty, the last in April 2008,
rather than face a jury trial.

Degree-granting authority does not guarantee academic legitimacy. Was St. Regis a
legitimate university? Of course not. No classes were taught and none of the Randocks'
employees who fabricated transcripts and diplomas for customers had finished high school.
The fact that the Randocks had purchased "accreditation" from the same officials who would
issue recognition to genuine Liberian universities cannot change this.

But did their Liberian recognition actually invest them with the legal authority to award
degrees? Again, the answer is no, since the Randocks sold degrees from Washington state
and Idaho (rather than Liberia) and had never been licensed by either Washington or Idaho.
The situation would have become more complicated if St. Regis had relocated its servers and
administrative infrastructure to Liberia or Ghana. It still would have been a diploma mill, but
it might have been able to operate in compliance with Liberian law.

We have a problem of similar shape in the United States, where degree-granting authority
stems from individual states with varying standards. For example, Alabama's Department of
Postsecondary Education sometimes issues private school operating licenses without
adequate attention to the practices of those schools. One organization with such a license
claimed "accreditation" from an accreditation mill run by the school's owner; his
accreditation mill also issued credentials to bogus medical schools. A few years before
obtaining an Alabama license, he had partnered with the Randocks' organization so that his
clients would receive diplomas from his school and also from St. Regis.

Possession of degree-granting authority issued by an appropriate government agency is a
necessary, but not sufficient, condition for a school to be legitimate. Any international
agreement that governs recognition of academic degrees across borders must be robust to
problems arising from the distinction between legitimacy and legal compliance.

This is not a simple, static issue. The changing circumstances that can threaten to destabilize
countries such as Chad and the Central African Republic make their governments targets for
the operators of diploma mills. And the pressing need for increased higher education
capacity in the developing world creates a market that is hugely attractive to diploma mills. It
will be the task of the international higher education community to develop the vetting and
database tools necessary to address this.

                                                                      [Online] Available:

This article speaks for itself. I need not elaborate any further. I am sure all of you here can
tell stories similar to the St Regis one narrated above. We really need to be on the lookout.
Africa is really vulnerable to this type of fraud, and in our case, any little success in such an
enterprise can have unimaginable disastrous consequences. Imagine the consequences of a
child in an African rural community being treated for complicated severe cerebral malaria by
a doctor with a St. Regis qualification.


Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen. At this juncture I will not like to make any hard and fast
recommendations. I have raised several issues and made some recommendations within the
context of my address. I have touched on areas that would be further discussed in subsequent
sessions. I would rather prefer that the conference critically examines the issues that I have
raised and the few recommendations I have made, and take them into consideration during
deliberations to come out with a composite document that will contain the requisite
recommendations that can be regarded as representing the collective opinions of all
participants. *(Comment on the football team picture).

Thank you for listening.


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