What have been the major highlights in the past couple of years?
The major achievement for the university campus in Accra has been graduating our first class of graduates in September 2017. We are rapidly becoming the university of choice for international students coming to Ghana with a substantial number of students from all over West Africa. Additionally, we are rapidly establishing a profile as a leading research university in Ghana. A joint bid from Lancaster UK and Lancaster Ghana won a multimillion-pound grant from the Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF). This is built around managing water resources and developing local capacity in West Africa. We are also developing the research profile of our Ghana-based staff. Lancaster University in Ghana is a partnership between Transnational Academic Group (TAG) and Lancaster University, UK. The partnership is a core part of Lancaster University's international strategy but also meets its strategy for teaching and research excellence as well as engagement. In the 2018 Sunday Times ranking, Lancaster University moved from ninth to sixth place in the rankings and also won the coveted award for University of the Year 2018.
What measures do you expect from the Ghanaian government?
The Ghanaian government has been supportive of our campus in Accra and sees the value of campus development as it reaffirms its commitment to make Ghana an education hub. We hope to see support from the government regarding taxation and infrastructure support in the future as well as working together with the private sector to meet the burgeoning population of students who will graduate from high school in the years to come as well as work together on delivering more STEM courses in the market. One of the problems with traditional universities is that they are slow to respond to shifts in the market. Ghana has a traditional university sector that is desperately under funded. Public universities in Ghana turn away as many as 25,000 highly qualified candidates because of a lack of capacity. Funding remains a persistent difficulty for all public institutions and private institutions in Ghana. Apart from some regionally targeted funds, the bulk is allocated to primary and secondary schools. Interestingly, Ghana has moved to fully fund secondary education in Ghana. In three years, that means a further surge in demand for university places. There is a huge demand for infrastructural investment in education but the question is how do we go about securing it? The Ghanaian government will need to be innovative in how it develops a high-quality university sector. There is a large number of students enrolled in private universities in Ghana. The partnership between TAG and Lancaster University is an innovative approach for the private sector to participate and support the need for high-quality private providers in Ghana.
What are your expectations for 2018?
We expect the economy in Ghana and Nigeria to be more robust compared to 2017. There are strong GDP numbers being projected for the region. We will outlay significant capital for our new campus project that will allow us to expand our course offering. We are currently sitting at around 550 students and hope to grow north of 700 students by year end and then proceed to getting closer to 1,000 students for the new campus. We are continuing to push our recruitment beyond Ghana to include Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Senegal. The new government's commitments to the education sector should hopefully be passed as well. We are optimistic for the campus development in Ghana, hence the investment being committed by our shareholders. We will also commence marketing and recruiting for new degree offerings whose first-year intake will be in 2018 and 2019.