Qualification, Remuneration and Pedagogical skills: Contributory factors for university prestige
Before the 90s, gaining admission to a university in Ghana was more difficult than a camel going through the eye of a needle. Going forward, slight difficulties persisted in gaining admission until the entry of the millennium. The post millennium opened up vacancies for many more applicants to gain admission into the university. One can firmly say that gaining admission into a university by a qualified applicant unlike before is as easy as a sharp knife going through a melon.
Today, with the multiplicity of campus based and online programmes available for the award of degrees, admission into a university is not much a problem than the availability of qualified lecturers, remuneration and pedagogical skills as contributory factors for university prestige. The quest of this article is to examine how qualification, remuneration and pedagogical skills enhance the image of the university which in turn produces quality manpower in terms of graduate for national growth.
The proliferation of universities both campus and online based calls for a massive human resource need to meet the required quality for a university in lecturers qualification, remuneration and pedagogical skills. Should any of these three requirements be present at all times or the absence of any can be managed within a time frame that will not affect the quality of the university.
I will proceed to discuss the importance of these three contributory factors for university prestige as follows:
The first step to attaining a lectureship position in the university is to hold a minimum qualification of a master’s degree in the relevant subject areas that one will be employed to teach. In Ghana, a research based master’s degree qualification is required for lecturing in the university. But for a non-research based master’s degree, it should have been obtained by 2005/06 academic year.
Where does the academic qualification leaves those who have enormous industrial experience with probably a master’s degree which is not a research based? Per the discussion, they can either serve as visiting industry experts to the university or adjunct lecturers. This means that such qualification holders can never be full time lecturers in universities in Ghana except they obtain a research based master’s degree.
Be that as it may, do we prefer qualification over experience? The obvious answer is to have both qualification and experience, but under the present circumstance where the two are not in abundance to meet the growing demand, what do we do? The National Accreditation Board (NAB) must be commended for allowing industry experts who are willing to lecture but do not have the recommended research qualification to first be accepted as adjunct lecturers while they work at obtaining a research degree qualification.
The biggest challenge with the sole meritocracy of research degree as the first criteria for qualification as a lecturer poses a problem to universities. My discussions with universities prove that it takes a long time for such lecturers to have control over the subjects they teach. Obviously that is expected because they have no teaching experience since they have just qualified from university. Sometimes, their confidence levels in the lecturer rooms are not up to the expectation of the students.
Qualification for employment in the university has mainly focused on academic staff. It must be noted that the worth of a university is not only dependent on the academic staff but also the non-teaching staff. The requirement for academic may be high but that should not leave the requirement for non-teaching staff to vagueness.
It is common phenomenon to encounter some non-teaching staff of a university and wonder how they got employed in such positions that they occupy. They have no knowledge of their job requirement. The more pathetic point is when they lose reasoning to situational issues. They are only wired to take certain instructions without the slightest situational analysis.
Another common observation is where you find male cleaners cleaning female wash rooms. What level of thinking goes into making such employment engagement decision on the part of the employer? Must there be a policy directive to regulate this wash room matter? It beats my mind why on the plethora of human rights, a male should be employed to clean female wash rooms in the university.
University lecturers’ remuneration is of utmost concern for attracting qualified personnel to the profession. Some of the salaries are so low that though unemployment issues compel many to accept the offer yet they do it grudgingly hence not giving the best and also not fully committed to students development.
Any university desirous of prepping up its image must consider its remuneration to its staff not only lecturers but non-teaching staff as well. Countries with good universities are those who have taken the bold initiative to pay their staff commensurate market rate of employment. One distinction of a good university to a bad one is how much the university staffs are paid.
The other side of the remuneration argument is the sources of funding the university. In private universities where students pay full fees, some universities are able to pay their staff very well irrespective of the huge debt servicing they incur in infrastructure development. Other universities just don’t care how poorly their conditions of service are. But the fact remains that if management of universities pretends to pay poor salaries, the staff will also pretend to work poorly. Employee quality service deliveries are embedded in their good conditions of service.
- Pedagogical skills
The growing numbers of universities both campus and online based has a tolling effect on pedagogical skills. In Ghana, apart from the research degree qualification required to teach in the university, there is no other training specifically for university teachers.
In other developed countries like England, one can enroll on a qualifying certificate in teaching at a higher level. Qualifying certificate in law teaching is a typical example of a qualifying training aimed at those willingly to teach law at the university.
While campus based teaching offers students the opportunity to assess the pedagogical skills of their lecturers, online programmes take away that effect. This situation is precarious in instances where online education is not embedded in the setting of technologically enabled face-to-face tuition.
A good pedagogical skill heightens students’ interest in learning. Students appreciate lecturers with good pedagogical skills while they abhor the opposite. The skill must conscientiously be developed in lecturers. This can come by way of continuous professional development specifically in higher education teaching.
Students’ feedback forms must be designed specifically from broader questions which apply to the general management of the university to eliciting the levels of pedagogical skills of lecturers. Higher education policy makers must know that good pedagogical skills do not automatically come with the acquisition of a research master’s degree.
One way to improve the pedagogical skills of university lecturers is to build in the master’s course tenants of teaching at higher education. At that level, students willing to go into teaching after the degree programme must be made to take courses that will enable them to inculcate higher education teaching skills.
Good universities are the ones whose lecturers have high level of pedagogical skills. This enables them to breakdown complex subjects to the barest understanding of students. They are able to make difficult subjects easy and attracting the admiration of many students to read their courses sometimes not out of the students’ likening for the subject per se but for the dexterity with which the lecturer conducts the subject.
There are many universities but only a few stands out as very good. A university cannot be entirely bad because definitely there are some good staff both teaching and non-teaching doing something good, but reference to some universities as very good is a collective performance by its staff particularly teaching staff that sets those universities apart from the others.
The requirements of students in the development of universities are not focused on this article. The responsibility to make a university great is largely that of the staffs that are expected to possess the needed qualification and expected job satisfaction to imbibe in students’ academic excellence.
In my estimation, a university will only be great or will be on the path of greatness when they carefully consider qualification, remuneration and pedagogical skills as contributory factors to university prestige.