What have been the major highlights for your university?
PROF. EDMUND AMEKO In 1949, we were set up as a practical career institute to train people in technical skills to become electricians, plumbers, and painters; we later became a polytechnic in 1962, giving a three-year higher national diploma through the National Board for Professional Technician Examination, the central certification body. We became Accra Technical University in 2016, which allows us to offer our own certificates, alongside master's degrees and PhDs.
PROF. ODURO OWUSU I took over on August 1, 2016. A strategic plan has been running since 2013, and my philosophy is to continue with this process and move it forward. My first step was to introduce a couple of strategic teams to look at academic growth and the establishment of an institutional advancement team. One of the things lacking in African tertiary education institutions is endowment, and without this, most students are handicapped by finances. Therefore, the institutional advancement team has the sole responsibility of ensuring we link up well and are able establish a fundraising process to raise an endowment for the university. Our target is at least USD20 million so that we are able to provide tuition and scholarships for our students, especially our master's students. The vision is to become a research-intensive university, de-emphasizing undergraduate admissions and emphasizing graduate admissions.
How does your university plan on ensuring a smooth transition for graduates entering the working world?
EA This is an area we still need to work on. Though we have not done trace studies on our students, we have to make sure they have a workplace after graduation. This is part of the advancement team, and I have appointed an alumni relations office whose duties are to start conversations, processes, and follow-ups with students after they graduate. We have established a unique Institute of Applied Science and Technology to bridge the gap between academia and industry, and recently had several industry players join our team. We seek to introduce entrepreneurship and innovation, including internships or experiential learning, whereby students do internships as part of their academic programs to better enter the working world. One of my visions is to make sure we have an entrepreneur and innovation hub, where students with great new ideas can go. My philosophy is to provide students with the best resources available; we want them to become employers rather than employees, to create jobs, and go out to the working field with the best tools possible.
OO The shift now in approach is to ensure that students are able to be entrepreneurial in nature, as 85% of our economy is informal. Job openings are limited and the government is not employing; therefore, students must be equipped to start their own business. We started a pilot project in 2017 with 600 students where we provide space on campus for industries to train and eventually employ our students. We constantly seek to boost our cooperation with industries to meet market needs. Our programs are in business, engineering, and applied sciences, and in terms of collaboration, we do not lean toward one side over another, even though the government wants us to be 60% engineering focused and 40% business focused. Our lecturers must undertake industrial training as part of their regular work to keep up with developments in the industry. We also launched new programs in medical laboratory technology, hotel catering and institutional management, mechanical engineering, oil and gas, media studies, and entrepreneurship.
Do you have a strategy to raise brand awareness outside of Ghana?
EA Our strategy was to look at other technical universities and universities of applied sciences. After visiting universities in Germany, the Netherlands, and South Africa to understand their systems, we adopted the German one, signing an MoU with Cologne University. We also sent three staff members from Kumasi Technical University to go through a workshop of competency-based training. The collaboration will be for a four-year period, and we will have exchanges, such as a recent seminar from Professor Schneider on renewable energy that concentrated on solar energy. In collaboration with Hague University of Applied Sciences, we visited Dutch firm Safi Sana and hope to work more with Hague University.
OO We invested to establish partnerships internally and externally. Both are extremely important, though external partnerships would give us international exposure. For example, we have an exchange program with Cambridge University, Cambridge Africa, and a similar experience with Harvard. Such partnerships help us expand our frontiers, help our faculty become more experienced, and help our students.