I have for the past three days been traversing the nooks and crannies of the Legon campus of the Ghana Premier University, with my eighteen-year-old daughter looking for lodgings to no avail.
We were joined by other parents and students who were in a similar fix. The sight of these seventeen and eighteen-year-old S.H.S students who have been freshly qualified to enter the premier university miserably gallivanting from hall to hall was galling and a sight to behold.
Along the line, we went to the Liman Hall, Frances Sey Hall, Jean Aka Hall, Alex Kwapong and Jubilee Hall seeking out the hall masters who had judiciously disappeared from their various offices. I and my formidable colleague, Mary Mensah of the Daily Graphic also interacted with the head of the Legon I.C.T. centre.
Two fresh-faced young girls, who had noticed our determination to get to grips with this Legon imbroglio tagged along as we signed the various Hall application request books.
Our information indicates that there were Eleven Thousand (11,000) students for accommodation and what the universities had to offer was One Thousand nine hundred (1,900) beds. The complicated situation started just a week after the release of the Legon admission list.
The admitted students were told to go to the Legon online admission link or portal after paying their school fees for admission to the various halls.
Few minutes after the opening of the online portal the message flashed to the thousands of expectant students that the halls – both the traditional halls and the new halls were full and most of the fresh students had not secured the requisite accommodation.
A former colleague who logged in for her `daughter found to her consternation that three minutes after the portals were opened, the halls were full and parents were left to their own designs of how to get their children accommodated.
Information gleaned from the IT department of the school indicated that Eleven Thousand (11,000) students were chasing after One thousand nine hundred (1,900) beds.
The traditional halls of the university include Commonwealth, Akuafo Hall, Mensah Sarbah, and Volta with the new halls being Elizabeth Frances Sey, Jean Aka Hall, Alex Kwapong, Hilla Liman and Jubilee Hall.
I stutter and shudder to think of what would happen next year when the free Senior High School students hit the campus.
Over the years there used to be this policy of first in, out, out and in for the students and this was to help the young students to get to grips with the workings of the university and become attuned before moving out to seek other sources of accommodation.
Today, there is no policy and an “APRIL FOOL” sort of policy of online application exists and only a few students enjoy from this system.
In fact, the policy had been discarded since 2009.
What we later found out there was some policy of in, in, in and in prevailing. The rest of the students managed to find accommodation through the very huge protocol system, patronage, bribery, hostel and other nefarious schemes.
It is a “Mafia system”. One girl told us that her father, a Member of Parliament had told her in July of this year that he had secured accommodation for her. One politician told my colleague that she should have seen him earlier and that they had used up their protocol allocation.
During the first day of orientation, one young man approached me and offered me a bed for sale at 3,700 Ghana Cedis. I told him to move away. In the interim, we are looking at other very expensive hostels nearby. The young lady has therefore got to traverse from her abode at the block factory area near the West Hills Mall to Legon Campus each day to attend classes.
These questions need some answers.
- Why shouldn’t the University have a better and proper policy in place than this trickery of online application for admissions to the various halls? It breeds in it wake corruption, bribery and other abuses.
- What will happen in the 20/21 academic year when the Free S.H.S students come on board? A better well-planned system should be in place before then.
- Why are more hostels not being built and why is the university still intent on its obnoxious policy of taking over the private hostels on its lands after the fifteen years period given them to build and operate the hostels?
The writer is a Freelance Journalist