NUC proscribes Ghanaian varsity affiliate programmes

By The Citizen

The National Universities Commission (NUC) has declared illegal the degree programmes offered by the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana, through an affiliation with Hallmark Educational Bureau Nigeria Limited.

The Executive Secretary NUC, Prof. Julius Okojie, has also warned Nigerians against undergoing such programmes that the certificates awarded would not be recognised in Nigeria.

Okojie's position was contained in a Monday Memo bulletin, which the NUC produced after a three-man delegation from the Ghanaian university visited the commission.

The supervisory agency of Nigerian universities had blacklisted UEW from awarding degrees in the country.

The NUC boss informed the delegation that the UEW had been flouting the regulations on establishing affiliations with Nigerian universities.

The certificates awarded to products of the affiliation, he said, would not be recognised in Nigeria.

The NUC stated that in a review of correspondences between UEW and Hallmark Educational Bureau, it was discovered that Hallmark had claimed to be in touch with the Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria and had allegedly falsified documents to buttress its claims.

Hallmark, Okojie added, had also sent correspondences to the NUC with alleged forged letterheads of UEW, claiming to want to do legitimate business in Nigeria.

Okojie informed his Ghanaian guests that NUC, as a regulatory agency for university education in Nigeria, had a bird's eye view of the sub-sector in West Africa as a whole.

He added that the NUC was aware of the university's illegal affiliation with the 'degree mill' in Nigeria and had been on the trail of its affiliate institution for a while.

NUC, he noted, had the power to withdraw degrees already awarded or close down any university which contravenes laid-down regulations.

Okojie noted that Ghana had only four recognised universities; with the rest being affiliate institutions. He added that the recognition of a university in Ghana did not necessarily mean it was good enough for Nigerian students.

The NUC boss assured the visitors that the commission had no issues with the UEW, which it recognised as an approved institution. But it is, according to him, rather concerned about its affiliation with institutions in Nigeria.

He said that while the commission encouraged staff and student exchange between countries, such should be done according to established guidelines.

He informed the delegation that residency requirements for affiliation stated that for a student to earn the degree of an institution, he or she must have lived in the country where the institution was located for a minimum of four semesters in the case of undergraduate programmes and three semesters for postgraduate programmes.

This, Okojie said, was to enable the students to have an all-encompassing experience.

Okojie faulted the Ghanaian university for not seeking proper guidance from the NUC prior to signing the agreement with Hallmark Educational Bureau.

To redeem its image, Okojie advised UEW to publicly disassociate itself from theĀ  organisation and publish disclaimers to that effect, in national dailies in Ghana.

He added that the NUC would also publish information about the activities of Hallmark Educational Bureau in Nigerian dailies.

Okojie added that UEW was also required to furnish NUC with details of students who had been issued degrees of the university through the affiliation, as well as what degrees they had been awarded.

'Only when all this is done could the institution, under the guidance of NUC, enter into any affiliation with any Nigerian university,' Okojie said.

He warned the delegates to be wary of promoters of illegal degree-awarding institutions and advised them to alert universities in Ghana as well.

The UEW's Pro-Vice-Chancellor, who led the delegation, Prof. Emmanuel Akabah, said the institution decided to visit the NUC after its affiliation was blacklisted by the Nigerian universities' supervisory agency.

'We are here to ascertain what we have done wrong with regard to UEW affiliation programmes and, if necessary, discuss measures to take to resolve the issues and restore the university's image,' Akabah said..

He added that the 21-year-old university had had an understanding with Hallmark Educational Bureau since 2008.

Under the affiliation, he noted, Hallmark was licensed to award degrees of the university to its students. He revealed that the institution had provided the certificate of incorporation by the Corporate Affairs Commission.

Akabah explained that Hallmark claimed to have been operating with the NUC's approval, but it had failed to furnish UEW with evidence of approval and the accreditation of its programmes.

He said UEW had asked Hallmark to stop awarding degrees of the university until it provided such details.