The Dean of the University of Ghana School of Law (UGSL), Professor Raymond Atuguba, is considering legal action if the controversial Public Universities Bill is passed amidst the numerous calls for its withdrawal.
According to him, the Bill needs to be thrown out because it is unnecessary and infringes on the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
He further stressed that the passing of the Bill is unnecessary because “you already have a regulatory system for the management of public universities that have run perfectly well.” When asked what he would do if the government goes on to pass the Public Universities Bill, he said that he would send the issue to the Supreme Court so the Bill will be “struck down” on the basis of it going contrary to the Constitution.
According to framers of the Public Universities Bill, it seeks to harmonize the finances, administration and governance structure of public universities.
The Bill, when passed, will give the government power to appoint the majority of members of the University Council.
The Council then has the power to appoint and fire public university officials.
The Bill also gives the President the power to dissolve the university council which will now have the power to appoint a chancellor. It also gives effect to the University Council to control the finances of the university and determine the allocation of funds.
In addition, there is a proposal to rename four public universities after various personalities.
The draft Bill has so far attracted wide public criticisms from many people including former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah. Among the concerns raised over the Bill is the proposal for the number of University Council members to be reduced from 15 to nine, the power of the President to appoint five of the council members and the power of the President to dissolve the council in cases of emergency and put in place an interim committee.
The Minority in Parliament has kicked against it with the Ranking Member on the Education Committee of the House, Peter Nortsu saying the draft in its current form undermines the authority of universities.
A former Deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa in an article also said the Bill, if allowed to pass, could become “a crude attack on the sacred principles of academic freedom”.