The Sunyani High Court has ordered the National Accreditation Board (NAB) to reinstate a certificate of accreditation to the Ideas University College (IUC) at Fiapre.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice F.K. Opoku, also directed that when the certificate was restored, the university authorities should organise a two-week intensive revision for the students to enable them to write their last semester examination which they were unable to write because of the immediate revocation of the institution's accreditation.
The court again directed that after their final examination, the school authorities should organise extra classes for the students to enable them to catch up with their counterparts in similar institutions who had been attending classes since the reopening of the universities recently.
Some time in December 2011, a day before the commencement of the final examination paper of the semester, the Registrar of the IUC, which is affiliated to the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), informed the students that the NAB had revoked the university’s accreditation and thereby it was closed down.
Consequently, eight out of the about 300 affected students filed a writ at the High Court for the “enforcement of their fundamental human rights” and an order of the court compelling the NAB to reinstate the certificate of accreditation to the university college.
The relief sought was about the enforcement of the students’ fundamental human right to education.
The applicants called upon the court to decide whether or not they and the other affected students had their constitutional right to education contravened or violated by the singular act of the NAB.
Mr Justice Opoku, in his 16-page ruling, said, “I expect the mentoring UEW to play its part in alleviating the hardship that the unfortunate students have suffered, including psychological trauma.”
The court emphasised that since the NAB failed to act within the confines of its jurisdiction, “this court, in my opinion, should interfere and intervene. Accordingly, I do so.”
In analysing the NAB Act and the Tertiary Institutions Regulations, 2010, the court pointed out, “At the stroke of the Executive Secretary’s pen, the whole university had to close down, thereby terminating the students’ accrued right abruptly in characteristic revolutionary language: ‘with immediate effect’.”
It said by that letter, the students’ right to education was substantially impaired, which obviously constituted undue hardship, adding that “their sweeping action is exceedingly harsh and hasty because, as we speak, the fate of the students is uncertain and this is not in the best interest of the students who have gained admission and paid school fees”.
“The NAB, regrettably and without caring about the catastrophic effect on the unsuspecting students, with the speed of lightning closed down the institution, thereby jeopardising the career of all these students who would have graduated by now to find jobs in the competitive global market,” it said.
However, the court observed that there were sanctions to be imposed on institutions that ran programmes and that revocation of certificate of accreditation was not one of those options, saying that the decision to close down the university was most unfortunate.
“The students have suffered inconvenience and undue hardship. What they had learnt for the first academic year has gone stale. The conduct exhibited in this case is, simply put, unreasonable and unjustifiable and clearly the board’s approach is against the spirit and letter of Act 744 and LI 1984,” it said.