The signs are on the wall that a vast majority of candidates who applied for admission to the universities, especially the public ones, may not be admitted.
This is not because they did not score high grades; the problem is due to the large number of applicants who will be vying for limited places.
An unprecedented number of 409,000 senior high school (SHS) graduates will be seeking admission to the universities and other tertiary institutions across the country this year.
The development is causing apprehension among many parents and students.
From all indications, the maxim, 'Many are called but few are chosen,' is bound to be at play in the admission of the two streams of applicants — the four-year and the three-year SHS graduates — as well as private candidates, vying for the limited places in the universities.
But the government has assured that measures put in place to address the high numbers seeking admission to tertiary institutions for the 2013/14 academic year were working and that all efforts were being made to ensure that access was expanded to guarantee a smooth admission process.
Kwame Asare Boadu reports from Kumasi that with barely a month to the commencement of the next academic year, pressure is mounting on the universities in the Ashanti Region to explore ways of meeting the huge admission challenges.
The public universities are hardest hit, because they occupy a prime place as the most preferred choice for undergraduate studies.
The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) alone has received more than 40,000 applications, but, sadly, officials say the university will not be able to admit even a quarter of the number due to inadequate facilities.
Already, accommodation facilities are overstretched at the university. Only first-year students have access to hostel facilities on campus, while the rest have to, on their own, look for accommodation elsewhere.
To make up for the difficulties, the university is exploring ways of expanding its Distance Learning programme to ensure that students who cannot be offered admission on campus as a result of the limited facilities get the opportunity to acquire higher education through distance learning.
The University of Education, Winneba (UEW), which has two campuses in Kumasi and Mampong, has promised working to increase admission by 50 per cent.
Already, the UEW has inaugurated two hostels, one each on the Kumasi and the Mampong campuses.
Also completed on the Kumasi campus is a new faculty building.
Private universities in Kumasi include the Ghana Baptist University College, the Christian Service University College (CSUC), the Garden City University College, the Christ Apostolic University College (CAUC), the University of Management Studies, the Ghana Technology University College and the Spiritan University.
During visits by the Daily Graphic to the campuses of some of the private universities, their officials said what had become a headache for the public universities had, in a way, become a blessing for them.
That, they said, was because some of the private institutions had, over the years, been grappling with how to get students for admission annually.
In Accra, while some tertiary institutions have indicated their readiness to admit a chunk of the two batches of SHS applicants, others say they will continue with measures taken in the past to solve persistent admission challenges, Emmanuel Bonney and Caroline Boateng report.
The Accra Polytechnic, the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), the Methodist University College, Ghana (MUCG), Marshalls University College and the University of Ghana (UG) have all given indications of the various measures being taken.
The Head of Public Affairs at the Accra Polytechnic, Ms Fausta Ganah, said the school would increase intake beyond its normal quota.
She said full-time and part-time programmes, as well as the introduction of weekend programmes, would absorb a sizeable chunk of applicants.
The Vice-Principal of the MUCG, the Very Rev Prof J. M. Kudadjie, gave a firm assurance that the university was capable of admitting 2,000 fresh students.
According to him, new lecturers had been recruited, while new classroom infrastructure and other facilities had been provided on the three campuses of the university at Dansoman in Accra, Tema and Wenchi in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The Rector of the GIJ, Mr David Newton, said although the institute would increase admission, it would not be able to have a double intake due to inadequate facilities.
Some 573 students were admitted to study at the institute last year.
The Head of Public Affairs at the University of Ghana, Mrs Stella A. Amoa, said the university would continue with measures consistently taken over the years in dealing with the high number of student applications.
Mrs Amoa could not be definite on the number of students to be admitted this year, as admission processes were still ongoing, but said already the university had had about 49,000 applications.
She said on accommodation, the policy of freshers first would be followed to help freshmen and women find their feet in their first year at the university.
At the Marshalls University College at Odorkor in Accra, the authorities said the university had the capacity to admit up to 2,000 students for the 2013-2014 academic year.
As a new university, they said, the requisite facilities had been put in place to cater for students’ intake.
The President, Mr Tetteh Nettey, and the Vice-President, Mr Ben Antwi-Boasiako, made this known to the Daily Graphic.
Courses being run by the university are aimed at making graduates entrepreneurs and well-qualified for the job market in and outside Ghana.
Courses offered, Mr Nettey said, include Business, Modern Languages, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Social Sciences and Arts.
“From Level 100 to 400, we have a combination of field trips, expert visitation, internship and entrepreneurship projects,” he said.
Mr Antwi-Boasiako, for his part, said, “Every student who passes through Marshalls will have to be Information Technology (IT) compliant, since the world is moving in that direction.”
From Ho, Tim Dzamboe reports that heads of tertiary institutions in the Volta Region are making arrangements for the sale of forms pending the release of examination results.
The Registrar of the Ho Polytechnic, Mr David Dzontoh, commented that “admission is in crisis” but said provision had been made for three categories of applicants.
He said the Joint Admission Board would meet soon to fix quotas, adding that available facilities would not be overstretched.
Mr Dzontoh said prospective students in the Science, Technical and Vocational categories would certainly be accorded priority.
At the Evangelical Presbyterian University College (EPUC), the Registrar, Mr S.W.K. Buami, said a pavilion was under construction at Ho-Kpodzi to serve as a lecture hall for 600 students.
Shirley Asiedu-Addo reports from Cape Coast that tertiary institutions in the metropolis are making efforts to admit the high number of applicants expected to apply for admission this year.
The Public Relations Officer of the University of Cape Coast, Major (retd) Kofi Baah-Bentum, said the university could only manage about 500 more students than the usual intake.
According to him, the university usually admitted 4,500 students and said that may be increased to about 5,000 this year.
He said the university had proposed to the government to support it to complete work on its Accra campus which could admit about a 1,000 more students when completed.
The Rector of the Cape Coast Polytechnic, Dr Lawrence Atepor, in an interview on the situation, stated that the polytechnic had space to admit more students if applicants obtained the required grades.
He indicated that the polytechnic had always under-admitted students because of the limited number of qualified applicants.
He said although the polytechnic admitted about 1,500 students annually, it had enough lecture halls and space to admit about 5,000.
Vincent Amenuveve reports from Tamale that some tertiary institutions in the Tamale metropolis have started putting in place some measures to be able to cope with the high number of SHS graduates seeking admission to tertiary institutions.
At the Tamale Polytechnic, for instance, the authorities have set up a committee to draw up a new timetable to help accommodate more students in the short-term owing to the limited number of lecture halls at the polytechnic.
According to the Public Relations Officer of the polytechnic, Mr Wumbei Abdulai, there was also an ongoing project to increase library facilities at the institution.
It would be recalled that an audit team led by a deputy minister of Education in charge of tertiary education, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, with representation from the Ministry of Education (MoE), National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), National Accreditation Board (NAB), Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), had visited universities and polytechnics across the country.
The team assessed infrastructure and related issues in readiness for the high number of students to be admitted for the 2013/2014 academic year mainly caused by the two streams of SHS 4 and SHS 3 who jointly sat for this year’s West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
The deputy minister and the team have so far visited tertiary institutions in five regions during the past week. The institutions visited were the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi; University of Education Winneba, Kumasi Campus (UEW-K); University of Education Winneba, Mampong Campus (UEW-M); Kumasi Polytechnic, Kumasi; Sunyani Polytechnic, Sunyani; University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa; Takoradi Polytechnic, Takoradi; University of Cape Coast; Cape Coast Polytechnic; the University of Education Winneba (UEW), Main Campus; University of Professional Studies Accra (UPSA), Accra; and Accra Polytechnic, Accra.
A statement released to the media this weekend by the audit team, after the tour, indicated that the team was impressed with the pace of work in the various institutions, especially projects which were 70 per cent or more complete which had been captured by government under the GH¢7.6 million special allocation in the 2013 budget aimed at completing these priority projects with the view to increasing the capacity of universities and polytechnics to admit more students.
The audit team held discussions with vice-chancellors/rectors, pro-vice chancellors/vice-rectors, registrars, deans of schools, directors of academic affairs, development and planning officers and contractors working on various projects.