We have just witnessed the second matriculation ceremony for the St Margaret College. This makes the day a special one not only in the lives of these dear students, but also in the history of the College.
Ladies and gentlemen, as you may know a matriculation ceremony is usually an internal university event where freshmen and women are formally admitted as junior members, in statu pupillari, into the University. Parents and senior members (in loco parentis) are the witnesses.
Let me thank all parents and guardians of our students for bringing your wards to the St Margaret College. We are very much aware of what you expect our education to do for your wards, ie to make a positive difference in the lives of these young ones. We shall employ all the skills at our disposal and create the necessary conditions not only to impart academic knowledge to the students but also to turn out people whose lives reflect Christian principles and values.
Our objective is to prepare men and women who will apply their advanced learning skills in the service of the country and humanity, and individuals who will become disciplined leaders in the society. Knowledge and Wisdom is our motto.
From what we hear day in and day out from the media, you will agree with me that disciplined and honest leaders are fast becoming endangered species in Ghana. We want to challenge you all to give us your maximum support and co-operation to enable us to train these young ones to become useful citizens for this nation.
This year we have offered admission to about 50 students, 25 males and 25 females. Our total population is 100. The programmes offered are B.Sc. Business Administration (Accounting and Finance, Banking, Marketing and e-Commerce), B.Sc. Computer Science, B.Sc. Economics and Statistics, B.A. Graphic Design, B.Sc. Procurement and Supply-chain Management, B.Sc. Quantity Surveying and Construction Economics and B.Sc. Development Planning. All these programmes are affiliated to the KNUST.
In addition to these programmes, we also offer a certificate course in Healthcare Assistant.
We have concluded affiliation process with the University of Cape Coast for the B.Sc. Nursing Programme. This programme is now being sent to the National Accreditation Board and the Nurses and Midwives Council for approval. Hopefully, the B.Sc. Nursing programme will be offered from next academic year.
Other programmes undergoing affiliation include B.Sc. Physician Assistant, B.Sc. Public Health and B.Sc. Actuarial Science.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you can see from the array of programmes we offer that, St Margaret College is seriously promoting the balanced pursuit of the humanities, the sciences, and the application and management of technology. Altogether we are offering nine (9) programmes.
Unfortunately there is no clear national policy on priority areas for national development; because this is what will guide us to formulate appropriate programmes of study. The situation now is that both public and private tertiary institutions use their own criteria to introduce new programmes. We hope that the 40-year development plan and ongoing initiatives in the ministry of education would provide a blueprint to guide us. We keep hearing about science and agriculture. The question is, which area in science, and what motivation will be given to attract our young graduates to go into agriculture?
CHALLENGES OF PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe you have had the opportunity to look around this campus. You will therefore agree with me that this campus is beautiful beyond any argument. The facilities (Library, Computer Lab, and Demonstration room) are excellent, the campus is serene, we are developing sporting facilities; we have hostel facilities.
One would therefore conclude that all is well with us. However, like other private universities, we face some challenges such as;
- Low enrolment
- High operational costs
- High communication costs
- Inadequate vehicles to transport students around
- Lengthy accreditation and affiliation processes
- High accreditation and affiliation fees
- Threats of high corporate tax.
Many at times our appeal to government for support has not been heeded to for various reasons.
In the first place there is a perception that private universities charge exorbitant fees. This is far from the truth because fee paying students in public universities pay higher in terms of programmes than the average in the private university. Recent statistics show that on the average fee paying in public universities is about 50-100% higher than in private universities.
There is also the lamentation that that there are too many private universities in the country but we have to agree that these universities are contributing a lot to manpower training for nation building. There are over 100,000 students in private tertiary institutions every year. If we should allow only public universities to operate, we can surmise that the critical trained manpower the country would require for an effective national development take-off will not be realised in the next 100 years.
While we do not expect government to be responsible for financing private tertiary institutions, we would appeal for the extension of the GETFund to cater for research, the provision of computers, books and reprographic equipment, which would go a long way to alleviate some of our problems.
It is our fervent expectation that the incoming government will pay the necessary attention to private universities, which have been ignored of late, to support the efforts we are making.
TO THE STUDENTS
Now, to you freshmen and women. On this occasion of your matriculation into the St Margaret College, accept my heartfelt congratulations. I congratulate you for taking a decision to enroll in this prestigious university. Gone are the days when people were selecting schools due to their name and even the halls within the university. It is important to realize that it is what one achieves from the institution that really matters.
You have been in the system for a while so I am sure you have an idea as to how a university operates. You have to make good use of all the resources available to you so that you can make it in the end. I will be very disappointed if you leave here to join people who do nothing useful in society.
As you cross over from the secondary to the tertiary, you will notice that a university is a very heterogeneous environment where all kinds of things go on in terms of philosophy, politics, economics, religion etc, media in which your moral values will be shaped.
Without much discipline you would leave the corridors of the university with all kinds of ideas, some of which may not be beneficial to you or the society. For most of you, the value choices you make in this university will stay with you for the rest of your lives.
We are here to offer you a unique opportunity for growth which will expose you to academic knowledge, character training, civic responsibility, protection of the environment and holistic development so that you can make good use of your head and hands from an honest heart.
Kindly take advantage of these unique opportunities in your life and use them to achieve something good for yourself and for the nation.
In one of Shakespeare’s plays, ie Julius Caesar, Brutus makes a statement which I would like you to put in your mind:
‘There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or ‘forever’ lose our ventures.’
A NOTE OF GRATITUDE
Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to express our gratitude to those who have helped us this far. To the chiefs and people of Feyiase, we say thank you. I also wish to say a big thank you to my colleagues, staff and students who are supporting us in this challenging job. We thank the Founder for her continuing financial and other forms of support.
May God bless you all. THANK YOU.