The Vice-Chancellor of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Professor (Mrs.) Rita Akosua Dickson, has briefed members of Convocation on the progress of the University at the 2021 State of the University Address held at the Great Hall, KNUST on 9th December 2021. The meeting was attended by members of Convocation which consist of all Academic and Administrative senior staff members.
The address was presented under the broad theme- “Strengthening Systems, Developing Appropriate Infrastructure and Cultivating Meaningful Collaborations and Partnerships.”
The Vice-chancellor explained that the themes were chosen because KNUST is of the firm belief that solidifying its foundation is critical to delivering its corporate vision. “We have therefore sought to resource and strengthen our base within this first year with the hope that we can use that as a springboard for greater impact as we build on our gains as a university in the coming years,” she added.
The Vice-Chancellor reported to Members of Convocation that the strategic mandate of the University to attain a student enrolment of 50,000 by the year 2025 as captured in the “PLAN2K25” blueprint, has been exceeded. The 2020/2021 academic year saw KNUST admitting 31,143 students which represents a 20% increase over enrolment for the 2019/2020 academic year. The current student population is 85,276 which is made up of 50,855 males representing 59.64% and 34,421 females representing 40.36%. KNUST graduated a total of 11, 073 representing 9,647 undergraduate and 1,426 postgraduate students at the just-ended virtual graduation. This leaves a current student population of 74,203.
In terms of Academic Programmes, she continued, 49,120 students representing 57.60% are pursuing STEM-related programmes and 36,156 representing 42.40% are pursuing NON-STEM programmes. The total number of programmes now stands at 520 programmes, 71 of which are fully accredited. Out of the 520 programmes, 386 are postgraduate programmes and 134 are undergraduate programmes. This is in line with the University’s objective and classification as a Research-Intensive University.
On staff population, the Vice-Chancellor reported that the total staff population stands at 5,114, comprising 71.92% males and 28.08% females. In terms of status, 22.35% are Senior Members Academic, 4.05% are Senior Members Administrative, 26.83% are Senior Staff, 14.84% are Junior Staff and 31.93% are Contract Staff.
Speaking on human capital development and Staff and Student Welfare, the vice-chancellor hammered on the importance of communication in warranting staff and student welfare, serving as a channel through which proper interactions are done. Consequently, several applications (Apps) are being developed to enhance communication as well as improve the service delivery to staff and students. These Apps, she added, are “The Staff Promotions App”, “The Telemedicine App”, “The Counselling App” and “The Feedback App”. A number of committees chaired by some of our respected professors have been formed to come up with recommendations that will further enhance the welfare of staff.
Also, the Vice-chancellor reported on the “Support One Needy Student with One Laptop” (SONSOL) Project which, with the support of stakeholders, has received 910 laptops valued at approximately Four Million Fifty Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH 4,550,000.00). 600 laptops have been donated to needy students in total. She added that since a significant number of students are staying off-campus, management has, therefore, categorized them into six (6) zones and appointed Senior Hall Tutors for each zone to work with the constituent student leaders in these locations to solve problems and challenges that confront these students.
To improve the healthcare delivery within the University, the University hospital has been expanded to include an additional dental clinic equipped with 8 chairs for both training and dental services. Additionally, in collaboration with a South African company incorporated in Ghana, Brainwave Ghana Limited, the University has set up a Renal Dialysis Centre at the hospital to provide state-of-the-art dialysis services. KNUST hospital is currently designated as a Participating Centre for the clinical trial on the COVID-19 vaccine, Sanofi Pasteur. Also, the KNUST Wellness Centre has also been established with a Board chaired by Prof (Mrs) Ibok Oduro. The focus of the Centre is on Preventive Medicine. The Centre has so far organised staff screening for Hepatitis and Breast cancer.
Under Impactful Research and Innovation, Professor (Mrs) Rita Akosua Dickson highlighted KNUST’s continuous effort on consolidating its position as a research-intensive University with results of its research making significant contributions at both national and global stages. Within the 2020/21 academic year KNUST churned out 2,999 research publications with 2,619 in refereed journals, 93 in books and book chapters and 287 in conference papers. Also, the total annual research grants received as of October 2021 stood at $4,951,000.00. To promote research and grantsmanship among young researchers, the Young Researchers Forum has been established under the Office of Grants and Research to drive research and grant hunting among young Faculty members.
Reporting on the third thematic pillar of her speech, Digitization and ICT, Professor (Mrs) Rita Akosua Dickson disclosed that the University is now committed to ensuring that at least 30% of all lectures are on virtual platforms and 70% in-person in order to ensure our versatility as an Institution. To this end, KNUST has taken steps to develop a robust and resilient ICT infrastructure. A new Data Centre worth over GHC 10 million has been designed and is under construction with new equipment bought to enhance E-infrastructure. E-learning studios to aid online teaching and learning have been expanded with 80% of the equipment needed for its operations procured. Approval has been obtained to retool all lecture rooms to make them SMART classrooms at an estimated cost of seventeen million Ghana Cedis (GH 17,000,000.00).
On entrepreneurship drive for students, the vice-chancellor said that it is part of KNUST’s mandate to provide entrepreneurship training and drive community engagement to improve the quality of life of students. To this end, all Colleges including IDL continue to include entrepreneurship and life-transforming content in their curricula. The University, working through the Centre for Business Development (CBD) has organised several training programmes to build the capacity of students in entrepreneurship. Through the Mastercard Scholars Entrepreneurship Fund, close to forty (40) students and Alumni from various MCF cohorts have been allotted funds to scale up their businesses. An Academia-Industry Mobile App has been created to facilitate information exchange between researchers, industry players and other agencies by an intern of the KNUST Business Incubator with support from BSU Phase III.
Again, the Kumasi Business Incubator (KBI) under the auspices of the eTransform Project of the Ministry of Communication has established a Start-up Academy. The academy is a pre-incubation programme that trains start-ups purposely for incubation. The KBI Project Team is currently training its 3rd Cohort of Start-Up Academy. So far, over 1,300 students from different Departments have participated in various pre-incubation activities.
Professor (Mrs) Rita Akosua Dickson also highlighted some initiatives designed to boost students’ entrepreneurial skills. These initiatives are the” One – Department – One – Start-Up (1D1S) initiative”, the “Ideas Challenge” and “Entrepreneurship Support Fund”. To make entrepreneurship among students have a strong foothold on campus, the KNUST Internship Placement Centre (KIPC) and KNUST Career Development Centre are to be established.
In her report on Infrastructure Development, the vice-chancellor indicated that the first Phase of the KNUST Teaching hospital made up of the OPD and Administration blocks with one floor for wards has commenced. Phase 2, made up of 800 beds has also been factored into the 2022 National budget (Appendix 10E, number 9). She added that there have been repairs on Campus Roads. In total, approximately 38km of campus roads would be asphalted. Also, other campuses are receiving facelifts. These include 5 kms of roads in Moree, 1.5 km in Kansoworado, 3.0 km in Obuasi and 1.0 km at Kwabenya in Accra.
The vice-chancellor revealed that the University continues to establish new relations through the signing of MoUs with academic and corporate organizations. Ongoing Collaborations include the University Partnership Initiative Project with the US government, Collaboration with the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and KNUST’s collaboration with the Technical University of Munich (TUM) which has generated a number of projects including, A partnership in scientific, technological and entrepreneurial excellence, Urban Water, Energy and Food Nexus, Sustainable E-Waste Management, Research Network on Responsible AI and Clean Energies for All. Although the academic year began in the heat of COVID-19, the year under review has recorded the signing of over fifty (50) partnerships bringing the total number of active MoUs in KNUST to over two hundred and ten (210).
Also, to stay in constant communication with one of its major Stakeholders, the Alumni, KNUST has developed the KNUST Alumni CONNECT App that would enhance effective communication between the University and Alumni as well as improve mentorship between Alumni and students.
Professor (Mrs) Rita Akosua Dickson added that the newly created Centre for Capacity Building and Innovation (CCBI), previously the Short Courses and Programmes Unit continues to work with the Colleges to mount demand-driven short duration programmes. The Centre is collaborating with several organisations and groups such as USAID, JOSPONG, Ministries and Agencies, and the security services to roll out about forty-four (44) short courses.
Reporting on resource Generation and Management, the vice-chancellor revealed that KNUST’s partners and benefactors continue to be a major source of support. She thanked all partners and benefactors who have been generous in making donations to our university.
On “Making KNUST Visible to the Global World”, Professor (Mrs) Rita Akosua Dickson added that a committee, under the Chairmanship of the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ellis Owusu-Dabo, has also been set up to work on KNUST’s Global Rankings. Also, the Vice-Chancellor has set up a Visibility Taskforce to ensure all staff have their profiles updated on the University website. The response has been positive with some Colleges having almost 99% of the staff having updated their profile.