24 June 2022 | Story Dr Nitha Ramnath

“We are trying to close the divide between Ghanaian and South African higher education institutions. Many Ghanaians look to UK and US universities as their first option. However, the same level of education, at a far less rate, is offered at South African higher education institutions – and the University of the Free State in particular.”

These were some of the sentiments shared by His Excellency Mr Charles Asuako Owiredu, High Commissioner of the Republic of Ghana to South Africa, during his recent visit to the University of the Free State.

The High Commissioner, accompanied by the Deputy High Commissioner and Head of Protocol, was hosted by Prof Francis Petersen. After a successful meeting, the students and academics from the Ghanaian community were also engaged. “The Vice-Chancellor was full of praise for the Ghanaian students and their performance at the UFS,” said the High Commissioner.

Prof Chitja Twala, Vice-Dean in the Faculty of the Humanities, highlighted the longstanding relationship that the UFS has with the University of Ghana. “We have a good relationship with the Department of History at the University of Ghana, and we are looking forward to collaboration with the institution,” added Prof Twala.

The High Commissioner felt strongly about cementing the relationships that already exist between the UFS and universities in Ghana and will lobby for education to be included in the master framework used as an operational document between the two countries. Faculty exchanges between the UFS and Ghanaian universities were also encouraged by the High Commissioner.

The High Commissioner encouraged Ghanaian students and academics at the UFS to suggest ways to deepen the relationship between the UFS and Ghanaian institutions.

Dr Prince Sarpong, Senior Lecturer in the School for Financial Planning Law at the UFS, proposed a collaboration between the UFS and Ghanaian institutions in the field of financial planning, whereby there could be an opportunity to reach out and expand the practice of financial planning to institutions in Ghana. The High Commissioner was eager to know more about financial planning and its location within law.

Ghanaian students who attended the meeting shared their experiences and perspectives about the UFS and indicated that an excellent relationship exists with project supervisors while pursuing their studies remotely.

According to Ghanaian students based on the UFS campuses, the UFS is doing great work by engaging students from Ghana in the UFS programme. However, students indicated that challenges were experienced with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

Dr Cornelius Hagenmeier, Director of the Office for International Affairs at the UFS, assured students that the aspect of SAQA is important and will be looked into, as it relates to the recruitment of students.

The High Commissioner also suggested that the Ghana Accreditation Board engage with SAQA.

 A UFS delegation will be visiting Ghana in October to explore the opportunities in agriculture, entrepreneurship, and the Business School.

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