Education think tank, Institute for Education Studies (IFEST), has said a manifesto promise by the governing NPP to cancel the guarantor system for loans to tertiary students is not adequate.
As part of its 2020 manifesto promise, the governing party under Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo promised that if retained, all tertiary students – except teacher and nurse trainees receiving allowances – will get the option to obtain a student loan without the requirement of a guarantor.
The government hopes to increase access to tertiary school for the high numbers of Senior High School (SHS) graduates by taking away the financial barrier to higher education.
However, IFEST has told GhanaWeb that it is a poorly thought out policy directive that will do little to improve access to tertiary level.
Executive Director of IFEST, Peter Anti, said if the government wants to improve access, it must focus more on improving the infrastructural deficit at the tertiary level.
“Every year, over 20,000 students apply to our various tertiary institutions. The tertiary institutions have come out to say that they are not able to admit all of them because there is a lack of infrastructure on campuses.
“So the problem of access at the tertiary level is more of infrastructure than finance. I can tell you that about 70 to 80 per cent of those who apply for tertiary education, have a way to pay for their fees,” he said in the interview with GhanaWeb.
He said this policy to cancel the guarantor requirement for student’s loan is a clear indication that the government has failed to understand the real problem with access to tertiary education.
“We are saying that in trying to improve access, the first deliberate policy is a policy to improve infrastructure across all the universities. I know that there is a mention [in the manifesto] to continue to improve infrastructure across all level of education…but that is not a deliberate policy to improve infrastructure. That is just a passing comment,” he said.
He added that the removal of the guarantor system will also spell doom for the sustainability of the students’ loan scheme because even with the guarantor system, many beneficiaries have failed to pay back the loan.
He said that instead of proposing to improve infrastructure at all levels, the government should focus on building satellite campuses across the country so that the pressure on public schools in the capital cities will be reduced.
“A lot of the problem we are having with access is because [SHS graduate] wants to come to Accra or Cape Coast or go to UDS [University of Development Studies at Tamale] campus but if we are having these [huge] number of students who are graduating from Senior High School and we want them to access tertiary education, then we can also deliberately start satellite campuses across the length and breadth of the country.
“So that people will apply to UCC, UCC admits them but the attend lectures etc at a satellite campus,” the IFEST Executive Director recommends.