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Ghana moves to woo more students from Nigeria, Africa


Education Reform: Lessons from Ghana
By Nsikan Ikpe
As part of a deliberate effort to woo even more ‘foreign’ students from Nigeria and other African nations, the West African nation of Ghana is in 2018 providing a basket of support for private sector tertiary educational institutions located within the country.
According to Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, this is part of a concerted plan to make the sector and country an even more attractive destination for investors as well as attract students from other African nations.

The minister made the disclosure while giving further details on the projected 2018 budget in parliament.

“The education sector represents a high growth potential with multiplier effects on the economy as confirmed by a recent “Country Private Sector Diagnostic” study by the World Bank Group. This is borne out by the rapid growth in privately-owned and managed universities as well as in the inward flow of students from the West Africa sub-region,” he said.

Accordingly, the Nana Akufo Addo administration has announced that privately-owned universities will get a basket of tax reliefs to help them become even more competitive in the regional arena. Chief of these incentives is the fact that the private institutions will no longer be required to pay corporate income tax and the thinking is that savings made in this regard will then be re-invested in improving their facilities to enable them attract more students from all over the continent.

“It is government’s intention to support the sector in order to position Ghana as the premier higher education hub of the sub-region and to attract critical foreign direct investment into the sector. In view of this, and also as part of government’s strategy for the long-term development of a local human capital base fit for a changing world, we will grant relief from corporate income tax paid by privately-owned and managed universities to the extent that profits are ploughed back to expand or maintain facilities.”

Equally, additional incentives would be introduced at the secondary school level following complaints by private Senior High School owners to the effect that they may be losing their investments due to the implementation of the free SHS policy, which has resulted in reduced admission numbers.

Indeed, underscoring the fact that Ghana does place significant premium on education, in 2017, it allocated 23.1 per cent of its total budget to education. In Nigeria on the contrary, it was a mere 6 per cent.

Equally, Nigeria, the net exporter of ‘foreign’ students to other countries within the continent has continued to resist similar calls by private sector-run tertiary institutions to similarly support them, including allowing them benefit from contributions made by businesses under the Tertiary Education Fund., (TETFUND) Act.

The result is that many private sector-run tertiary institutions are grappling with capital adequacy challenges which limits their ability to expand their ‘carrying capacity’ and thus their ability to further stem the human capital and foreign exchange losses that continue to afflict the sector on account of the large numbers of Nigerian students that are then compelled to seek admissions elsewhere.

Indeed, of the 1, 736, 571 candidates that applied for places in the 2017 University Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME process, the National Universities Commission, NUC has stated that on account of issues with carrying capacity, only 30 percent of this number would be offered admission.




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