Enrolment of students in private Tertiary Educational Institutions (TEIs), including universities, colleges and specialised institutions, has seen a significant decline over the last five years.
The situation now threatens the survival of private tertiary institutions in the country, with many struggling to meet their overhead costs.
Analysis of private TEIs’ student enrolment for the last five academic years by B&FT, from the 2018 Tertiary Education Sector report, showed that enrolment at all levels– except doctoral degree– have been decreasing in the last five years.
For instance, Masters (non-research) enrolment has been decreasing since 2013/2014. Undergraduate enrolment, on the other hand has decreased from 63,811 to 62,628.
Research masters’ degree also decreased from 152 students to 123, the report said.
Post graduate Diploma enrolment over the past few years shows some fluctuation, but the enrolment number of students reached all time low in 2016.
In recent times, private tertiary education managers have said that the establishment of satellite campuses across the country by public universities is having a toll on private universities.
This, they argued, has created a situation wherein prospective applicants opt to enroll in the satellite campus of a public university rather than a private university.
However, the recent development has made some educationists call on private TEIs to merge in order to compete and remain in business.
Like what is happening in the banking sector, they argue, private educational institutions should merge to create stronger and world-class institutions for higher learning.
Cause of collapse; competition or cost of fees?
In as much as private tertiary educational institutions face stiff competition from their public counterparts, there has been another school of thought that the cost of private education in the country is very expensive.
The fees charged by private universities per semester is about half of what public universities charge for a whole year– making public universities easy to access.
However, in order to make private education less expensive in the country, government in 2017 scrapped the 25 percent corporate tax on private universities.
Minister for Education in charge of Tertiary, Prof. Kwasi Yankah, is quoted as saying that the 25 percent tax deters private universities from investing any surpluses in growth expansion and innovation.
“It stifles further investment in education and makes it difficult for private universities to avoid fee increases. Indeed, the perception that private universities are expensive is partly due to nuisance tax as well as expensive accreditation processes whose outcomes are then passed on to students,” he said.