In 2008 two thirds of all applicants to universities were denied. The strict selection is caused by a lack of university places, costing Ghana a lot of potential talent. Most senior high school graduates enter employment directly. The missing accordance between the needs of the labour market and the education sector constitutes one of the country’s biggest problems.
Tertiary education in Ghana consists of universities, polytechnics and other institutions like specialised colleges. While all of the ten existing polytechnics are public, only eight out of 33 universities are. The public institutions are all under the responsibility of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE). The National Accreditation Board provides a list of many public and private institutions registered with them.
In order to enroll at a university you have to pass an entrance examination. The anglophone West African countries (Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Gambia) have tried to develop uniform standards among students finishing secondary schools in order to facilitate university entrance across their borders. Still, only around five percent of the relevant age group goes to university in Ghana. A number that is alarmingly low compared to developed countries. Talented students used to get free accommodation but nowadays you have to pay residential facility user fees. All universities allow you to achieve established titles such as Bachelors, Masters and PhDs. Nevertheless their recognition in other countries isn’t assured.
Polytechnics require a degree of senior high school with a technical background or a general technical or crafts course at a technical institute. Polytechnics in Ghana are more practice-oriented than universities and provide middle-level professions. Unlike universities, there are no private polytechnics.
Apart from the low enrollment numbers, Ghana’s tertiary education sector faces additional problems. As in the whole education sector, there are huge inequalities according to wealth. This is especially boosted by the fact that students who do not fulfill all requirements may get a place at universities simply by paying fees. Furthermore there is still a huge majority of men that are enrolled. There is also a high ratio of students in humanities compared to, for example, engineering and applied sciences.
The following universities are considered to be among the top in terms of quality and reputation in Ghana:
- University of Ghana (Legon, Accra)
- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Kumasi)
- University of Education, Winneba (Winneba)
- University of Cape Coast (Cape Coast)