There is growing uncertainty surrounding tertiary institutions on the admission of freshmen and women for the 2020 academic calendar, following the outbreak of COVID-19 that has led to a shutdown of schools in the country.
Also, due to rapid spread of the virus in the country, most institutions are scared of high infection on their campuses – hence their inability to decide whether to admit students for the 2020 academic year or postpone the academic year to 2021.
The councils and boards of the various tertiary institutions including universities, teachers and nurses training colleges, as well technical universities are still not certain if they are to allow management of the schools to admit qualified freshmen and women to pursue their various courses for this academic year.
Though tertiary institutions were supposed to have closed application by now and commenced admissions, almost all institutions contacted by the B&FT are still selling forms and hoping to start admission by September – if only by then the pandemic has reduced and the government gives the directive for reopening schools.
While some lecturers and staff of the various schools are of the view that by September admissions can take place, others are also not certain about this due to the inability of councils and boards to meet and communicate with them. Information gathered indicates that most of the schools are still not prepared for virtual academic work, hence their inability to decide when to admit and how many students to admit in this period of COVID-19.
More so, some tertiary institutions visited in the Tamale Metropolis and the Sagnerigu Municipality of the Northern Region – like the Tamale Technical University, University for Development Studies, Tamale Nurses and Midwifery Training College and Bagabaga College of Education – showed that their Information and Communications Technology (ICT) laboratories are under-resourced to enable lecturers to engage in online teaching.
Some management of the schools said efforts are being made to adapt to online learning, since the pandemic seems to have come to stay, to ensure students stay at home and thus study online.
Some lecturers said lecturing with the online learning system has been met with several challenges owing to constant network failures, the inability of some students to access data to participate; while others also did not have the money to purchase smartphones to enable them to participate in academic work.
Furthermore, academic work for Persons with Disability are said to have come to a halt, due to lack of alternative measures for them – though some regular students are studying online. Some students who have applied to some tertiary institutions and are waiting for their admission are also sceptical about their chances of going to school this year because no information has been communicated to them by the school authorities or Ghana Education Service (GES).
Some staff of the schools who spoke anonymously also told B&FT that the inability of schools to admit students this year will go a long way to affect them in revenue mobilisation for academic work as well as developmental projects. “This is because we generate revenue from the fees paid to run the institutions, especially for the distance programmes being pursued,” one of them said.
Public Relations Officer of the Tamale Technical University, Alhaji Aziz Mohammed, in an interview with the B&FT, said management has not communicated to staff – hence their inability to know whether admission might be down this year, though the university has still not closed its application-window.
He expressed hope that management and the council will discuss the issue of when to commence admission and start academic work, adding that: “For the reopening of schools, management of the various schools are waiting for government’s directive.” He, therefore, advised the current students at home to study hard and not treat the pandemic period as a holiday, because “time wasted cannot be regained”.
Public Relations Officer for the University for Development Studies, Sauda Berko, also told B&FT that the university’s council is yet to announce to management any decision taken and whether admission is expected to commence in September, which will depend on the situation by then. She stressed that any decision taken will be communicated to its current students and the applicants.
Touching on the possibility of online academic work, she said some departments have been engaging their students online while others have given their students lecture-notes to study while at home.