The Association of Private Universities (APU) and founders/presidents of private tertiary institutions have called on government to grant private educational institutions tax waivers on educational materials imports and infrastructure development projects.
According to them, private universities in the country currently accommodate just about 11 percent of the total tertiary student population, a factor they attributed to the high cost of private education because of the numerous taxes, public universities introducing all manner of programmes to enroll anybody at all, infrastructure challenges in these institutions, and some unfavourable government policies and regulatory requirements.
They have, therefore, appealed to government to create an enabling environment for them to complement the state in the delivery of quality tertiary education to the citizenry.
Founder/Chancellor, Wisconsin International University College, Ghana, Dr. Paul Kofi Fynn, lamented that tax authorities are always in private tertiary institutions to check on new infrastructure projects to place tax charges and halt projects unless payments are done, likewise all material imports for educational use are billed with the instituted port duties and other taxes without any discount or waiver whatsoever, which is hurting private educational institutions.
He is therefore urging the government to implement a policy that will enable private educational institutions to import educational equipment and materials with some waiver, as well as a waiver on taxes on other infrastructure development projects on campuses.
“The notion that private universities are only in business to make a profit is wrong. We are working hard to train our citizens and produce leaders and human capital for the development of our country. The government must see us as partners helping to develop the country’s workforce, and help us in that manner rather than imposing taxes on everything we do. This is creating unhealthy competition with the public tertiary institutions,” he said.
On his part, Former Vice Chancellor, University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) Tarkwa, Prof. Jerry Samuel Yaw Kuma, stated that indeed, private tertiary institutions require some tax incentives to free them of their high running cost for fees to drop a little for lower and middle-class families to afford, adding that it is only appropriate that infrastructure development projects and possibly educational materials import are given tax waivers to cushion their operations and survival.
From the government perspective, Deputy Director-General of Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC), Dr. Ahmed Jinapor, pointed out that with data indicating that there are about 86 private accredited universities in Ghana, the role of private universities in a much-touted developmental aspiration is quite evident.
He mentioned that while his outfit is ready and willing to collaborate with them to lobby with government for the approval of any policy proposition they bring to the table, it is also important that they innovate and demonstrate commitment to stay relevant in the education space as it is getting very competitive by the day.
“We need to have a paradigm shift in the way we do things. We cannot do the same thing and expect different results, and I’m hopeful that what is happening here today provides us an opportunity to do something different,” he said.
These remarks were made at the ‘International Conference on Private University Education in West Africa’ held under the theme: ‘Is the Survival of Private University Education in West Africa under Threat? Ghana as a Case Study’. The conference, held at the University of Professional Studies (UPSA), was organised by the West Africa International Press Ltd.
Also present were the President of All Nations University, Koforidua, Prof. Samuel H. B. Donkor; VC, Bowen University, Iwo, Osun state Nigeria, Prof. Joshua Olalekan Ogunwole; and VC, Pentecost University, Rev. Prof. Kwabena Agyapong-Kodua.