On Tuesday 5th June, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Embassy of France and the Vice Chancellors’ Ghana (VCG) association at the Residence of France in Accra. The MoU sets forth provisions that will serve as a foundation for additional specific bilateral agreements with member universities to formalize the deepening relationship between the two partners.
The signing of this framework agreement signifies another “building block in the productive relationship between VCG and the French Embassy which dates back about 10 years” explained François Pujolas, French Ambassador to Ghana. Since then, a number of
significant developments have taken place in the educational sector, leading up to the establishment this accord which was signed by H. E. François Pujolas, Ambassador of France to Ghana, and Prof Gabriel Ayum Teye, Chairman of VCG and Vice Chancellor of the University of Development Studies.
France – Ghana Higher Education cooperation: a success story
From 2013 to 2017, four editions of the Ghana-France Higher Education Conference have been organized either in France or Ghana. These conferences originated from the idea of bringing together heads of key universities in France and Ghana so as to discuss potential avenues of cooperation and construct new projects that would boost university mobility, joint research projects and knowledge sharing. In between the conferences, VCG and the French Embassy have collaborated to achieve major breakthroughs, for instance, in 2015 when the tremendous effort of both teams led to the ratification of a bilateral agreement between France and Ghana for the mutual recognition of university studies and academic qualification degrees. This agreement, being the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, facilitates direct access of Ghanaian degree holders to further education in France.
Again, last year saw the organisation of the first ever ‘Study in France’ education fair, held in Accra and Kumasi, as well as the launch of the Ghanaian chapter of the international old student digital network, known as France Alumni. This online platform, currently counting 260 members, fosters connection and networking among alumni, partner institutions and companies. The founding of France Alumni Ghana indeed attests to the rising number of Ghanaians who travel to France each year to pursue studies. In 2017 alone, this number reached 220, with a remarkable 40% increment in postgraduate level studies between 2015 and 2017.
Over the last four years, various initiatives have been implemented to facilitate expertise sharing, access to training and pedagogical support through the French government-sponsored Solidarity Fund Projects, the IFOS digital platform and the embassy’s support for the School of Doctoral Studies in French. Finally, a range of inter-university partnerships varying in scope and focus, have bolstered the higher education cooperation between France and Ghana within the period, examples of which are: : ISA- Lille and KNUST Master Fast track programme, Sciences Po Paris – University of Ghana student exchange programme, IFREMER- West Brittany University – Rennes University – University of Ghana(UG) research and exchange programme, ENA – GIMPA exchange programme and the Institute of Research and Development (IRD) – UG Noguchi Institute joint health and environment research programme.
One of the major merits of this MoU is that it will not only create an enabling framework for already existing partnerships between Ghanaian and French universities, but it will also pave way for the establishment of new and more innovative alliances both in quantity and in quality since numerous specialized schools and universities have already demonstrated interest in partnering with Ghanaian universities. It is also hoped that student mobility will be improved especially by forging of partnerships with French universities to facilitate the Year Abroad language immersion programme. But you can also have the possibility to study in English in all fields of higher education.
‘’Being bi-lingual and multicultural also provides job opportunities at an international level as the French language is spoken on all the continents”, said the Ambassador who added: “Higher Education in France is one of the least expensive in the world and the same time one of the best.”
Furthermore, plans are equally underway to set up a scholarship scheme in collaboration with GETFUND for students desirous to pursue post-graduate studies in France. It is also expected that an association will be created in the coming months to serve as the bedrock of the France Alumni Ghana digital platform.
In November this year, Ghana will be represented by a university delegation at the Francophonie-themed Campus France fair in Paris. It will be the occasion to further develop university cooperation between the two countries.