Leaders of forty (47) universities across the globe have raised the alarm about lowering standards in tertiary institutions at the expense of rapid expansion, noting that this development if not addressed will hamper the ability of these institutions to serve society and the broader economy, contributing to the common good.
They observed that the rapid expansion of higher education institutions, especially in the private sector, is making it increasingly difficult to safeguard the quality of education.
The leaders, including the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Professor John Owusu Gyapong, made it clear that rapid expansion of higher education institutions whether public or private should not come at the cost of the requisite standards that need to be preserved.
Professor Gyapong participated in the Transnational University Leaders Council meeting, an initiative jointly organized by the German Rectors’ Conference, the Körber Foundation and the Hamburg University in Germany earlier this month.
The council seeks to tackle changes wrought in the global economy that have broadened the demand for education at all levels and the necessity for university leaders to respond in ways that meet the needs of the society they serve while embracing their most precious time-proven academic assets.
Delegates were drawn from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North and South America to debate the consequences of the trend towards academisation and the future of higher education in the world.
The University Leaders held that although “global higher education has become diversified”, nonetheless, “students and societies need institutions with different missions and profiles to serve their needs”.
They called for “strategic differentiation in post-secondary education”, insisting that the policy guidelines should be coherent, designed with a clearly defined functions and responsibilities, provide varied academic programmes and certifications relevant to student and societal needs, given appropriate resources from public and other sources, and accompanied by processes that assure high quality outcomes”.
“Safeguarding the quality of educational programmes is one of the shared challenges we face, regardless of our very disparate national situations”, said Prof Horst Hippler, President of the German Rectors' Conference.
The Hamburg declaration “Organising Higher Education for the 21st Cen-tury” was adopted by the Council’s participants as an outcome of their discussions.
This declaration emphasises that a clear division of responsibilities among the different types of higher education institutions is an important foundation for a coherent differentiation of the higher education landscape worldwide.
The declaration highlights the special responsibility of research universities within the higher education system given their formative role in society.