Education is fast becoming a capitalist venture as universities, both private and public, charge huge tuition fees to enroll students to pursue various academic programmes.
A potential student will spend not less than GH¢1,500 a year, to enroll in a course at a public university while those who prefer private universities spend above GH¢4000 for the same period.
Currently, it costs GH¢1,444 to pursue a course in the humanities at the University of Ghana while the fee for the law programme is pegged at GH¢1,531.
The cost of a course in Business Administration/Law programme at the University of Ghana hovers around GH¢1,531 for fresh students in the 2016/17 academic year.
At the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, students pay GH¢2,302 to pursue a Business Administration/Law degree, and GH¢2,175 for programmes in the humanities for a period of one year.
The situation is even worse at the private universities where the cost of education is twice what pertains at the public universities.
The Valley View University, for instance, charges GH¢1,930 for a programme in Business Administration every semester, which means that a student will spend GH¢3,860 every academic year.
The Central University also charges GH¢2,210 for a programme in Business Administration every semester and GH¢2,160 for any programme under the Faculty of Arts& Sciences.
A student at the Central University will spend GH¢2, 410 to pursue any course at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, while a programme at the Business School costs GH¢2, 210 a semester.
Interestingly, a public institution like the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) now has a system where all students are treated as “fee-paying” students, a status that previously applied to students who failed to meet the standard admission requirements.
Experts have argued that education has become more or less “a capitalist venture” and so private universities should not be expected to charge anything less than is viable.
Prof. Bernard Kofi Baiden, Dean of Business School at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in an interview with the B&FT last year, said: “We should stop seeing education as a social necessity; it is a capitalist issue now.”
This, he believes, is the only way the private sector can thrive within the educational sector.
“You want to go to school; what do you get by going to school? If it is something valuable, then you need to invest in it… if it is worth it, then you must pay for it,” he said.
The country has witnessed the proliferation of private education at the tertiary level, with people raising concerns about the high rate of fees charged by these institutions.
Some argue that the high fees charged has defeated the purpose of making education affordable for all.
But the private universities have also argued that they pay a lot of levies to both the National Accreditation Board and other mentoring institutions they are affiliated to.
Currently, an admission fee of US$15 is levied by a mentoring institution to be paid by an affiliate university college on behalf of each student, which, according to the Council of Independent Universities (CIU), makes private university education very expensive in the country, as the fees are passed on to students to pay.
Apart from the levies paid to mentoring institutions, university colleges pay accreditation fees — which has increased from GH¢2,000 to GH¢6,000 — to the National Accreditation Board (NAB) for accreditation renewals, and approval of new programmes.
The Council of Independent Universities — made up of heads of accredited private universities, explained in a press conference that they pay a renewal fee of GH¢4,000 after an initial payment of GH¢20,000 institutional accreditations to the NAB.
GETFUND, which was set up to create a dedicated funding for education, at the moment, does not support tertiary students, regardless of whether they attend public or private universities.
Most private university colleges meet the funding of staff development from internally generated funds, and as these institutions expand and initiate more degree programmes, the cost of graduate training increases.