… Inadequate accommodation for students in all four campuses
From Edmond Gyebi, Tamale
17 years after its establishment as the only public university in the three Northern regions of Ghana, the University for Development Studies (UDS) is still grappling with infrastructural problems, as almost all the 19,904 students spread across the four campuses of the university are reportedly stranded without hostel accommodation.
As a result, severe pressure is now on the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, on whose ideology the University for Development Studies was established, to see to the swift and comprehensive financial and infrastructural development of the university. Anything short of this, The Chronicle has gathered, would prevent the university from offering the required admission to deserving students.
Speaking at the 11th Congregation of the UDS at the Tamale Campus, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Yakubu Haruna, noted that his outfit failed to provide residential accommodation to its students across the four campuses, while almost all the 1,243 teaching and non-teaching staff of the university was also facing accommodation problems.
Prof. Haruna said the UDS was paying huge sums of monies to private estate developers and landlords in providing accommodation for their staff, while students were also paying exorbitant rents to landlords who had rented their houses to them in the nearby communities.
The situation has compelled most students in Wa, Navrongo, Nyankpala and Tamale to rely on motorbikes, with some of them involved in daily accidents.
At the Wa Campus for instance, which has over half of the total student population, only 700 students, according to the Vice Chancellor, had been provided with hotel facilities by the university, and the distance from the hotel to the lecture halls leaves much to be desired.
Even though the UDS received some relative attention from the past government through the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), especially, the School of Medicine and Health Sciences on the Tamale campus, and at the Integrated Development Studies on the Wa campus, there was still vast room for improvement.
According to the VC, the UDS, as a result of its demand-driven programmes, had within the last 17 years seen massive improvement in the student population, from a humble beginning of 40 in 1993, to 19,904 in 2010, but very little had been done by governments to ensure that the university meets its intended purpose of sharpening the knowledge base of the people in the three Northern regions, and Ghana as a whole, for accelerated development
In spite of the teething problems facing the university, Prof Haruna Yakubu said the UDS continued to produce quality products, who continue to excel in the various sectors of the economy.
At the 11th Congregation however, a total of 2,033 graduands successfully passed all the requirements for the award of degrees, diplomas and masters qualifications this year. Out of the figure, 147 received diploma certificates, 1,822 bachelors’ degrees, and 19 masters’ degrees.
The Vice Chancellor appealed to the government to release the first and the second trenches of the GH¢20 million promised by the President as “Seed Money.”
On his part, the Chairman of the Council of State, Professor Kofi Awoonor, who represented President John Evans Atta Mills, reiterated the government’s desire to develop the UDS to become a centre of excellence.
He noted that the government was committed to developing the Tamale Teaching Hospital to fully serve as the clinical training ground for the UDS Medical School, and equip a number of district hospitals in the three Northern regions to serve as satellite clinical training centres for the UDS medical students, as they take their turn in community-based problems solving methodologies.
Professor Awoonor revealed that the government had released an amount of GH¢122,645.69 to the UDS for staff capacity building and research.
He said the government had also made available the sum of GH¢209,000 for the clinical training of medical students of the UDS at the Tamale Teaching Hospital.
Prof. Awoonor however, advised the graduands to shine as role models in their communities, by exhibiting higher standards of professionalism, with the creativity and entrepreneurship gained from the UDS.
Dr. Abdulai B. Salifu, Chairman of the UDS Council, stated that 5th year students of the university’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences would no longer acquire their clinical training from either the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology or the University of Ghana Medical Schools, since the Tamale Teaching Hospital would be provided with the needed resources to accommodate them.
He said plans were advanced to start a Forensic Science Programme at the UDS Navrongo campus, since it played a vital role in the criminal justice system, by providing investigators with scientifically-based information, through the analysis of physical evidence.