Ashesi University (Entrepreneurship)

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Executive Summary

Looking back at the progress Awuah had made in developing Asheshi University, he realized that his dream had been turned into a reality within a short period. The brand of the university had pervaded across Ghana with every student wishing to get associated with the university. Despite this progress, there were still numerous challenges that Awuah was faced with. These include cases of academic dishonesty in the university which were threatening to spoil the good name of the university. The high demand for enrolment in the university made Awuah wonder if it was the right time to embark on raising funds to establish a permanent university. In his bid to gather funds, Awuah wondered if the time to solicit funds from larger foundations had ripened. The hardships he went through in developing Ashesi and the uncertainties he had in its stability at the time made him wonder if it was right for him to replicate his idea to other countries in Africa.

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All these challenges called for wise decisions to be made to overcome them. To cater for dishonesty, there were numerous methods that the university could use which included; honor code, a modified honor code, and mixed judicial boards. Where mixed judicial boards proved to be the most viable. To solicit funds, Awuah had the option of appealing to foundations as well as using professional and self-directed programs. Demand for quality universities in Africa coupled with the inadequacy of ethical leaders called for replication of Asheshi model across Africa.

Background information

In December 2007, Patrick Awuah; founder of Ashesi university tried to make an account of his progress. It had been ten years since he came up with the idea of establishing a non-profit university in Ghana. Looking back on the history of the university, he was pleased to see that his vision had proved productive within a very short period. Ashesi had emerged as one of the most famous universities in Ghana with every student wishing to enroll in the university. It was after Awuah had gone through a Swarthmore college in the United States that he realized that there was a big problem with the system of education in Ghana. The system encouraged students only to accept the status quos and never to question any idea. His experience in the United States made him feel that there was a great need for the development of independent thoughts among Ghanaian students. This could only be attained through changing the system of education in the country. Despite the progress made by the university after a short period, numerous challenges still lay ahead. The growth of the university and change in the system of education depended on Awuah’s ability to overcome these challenges (Harrington & Saloner 2008, p. 1).

Challenges facing Ashesi University

Among some of the challenges that Awuah was faced with was the growing rate of academic dishonesty among the students. Over the past two years, cases of cheating among the students had increased rapidly. This was not only detrimental to the quality of professionals that the university was sending to the society but it could also tarnish the good name of the university leading to the public has a negative image of it. The issue of academic dishonesty in the university became more serious when a visiting lecturer came and reported that students had copied from one another in his assignment. It was Awuah’s aim to build a permanent university where they could be able to accommodate students from diverse backgrounds. From a feasibility study conducted by the campus, approximately eighty-five percent of the respondents agreed with the idea of establishing boarding facilities in the university. Meanwhile, the campus was renting boarding facilities for students who seriously needed the service. This was seen to consume most of the time that could be used in focusing on other university issues as the management took a lot of time negotiating with hostel owners. It is with this respect that Awuah wondered if it was the right time to start raising funds to help establish a permanent university (Harrington & Saloner 2008, pp. 12-14).

The desire for the establishment of private universities was not only in Ghana. Almost in every African country, people were wishing to establish private universities. Most of the people failed to take the initiative due to fear of the huge amount of money attributed with establishing and running a university and also numerous regulations required for university establishment. Awuah having gone through various hardships and successes in establishing Ashesi University, wondered if his experience was enough to allow him to pass the same ideas to other people who wished to establish private universities in their countries.

Ways of solving challenges facing Ashesi University

To make sure that Ashesi University retains its good image in the public, there is a great need of ensuring that ways are devised in the university to discourage academic dishonesty among the students. This will not only help in ensuring that the university retains its name and receive a high rate of enrolment but will also ensure that it produces quality professionals. The method of lecturers solving cases of dishonesty in the classroom had not proved productive as still more cases of dishonesty were reported. Dealing with academic dishonesty calls for a concerted effort between the students and university management. Initiating serious supervision during examinations would lead to students complaining of not being treated as gentlemen. This might result in them protesting thus increasing problems in the university. Some of the methods that the University can use in discouraging the vice include the establishment of honor codes in the university, the establishment of mixed judicial boards to deal with cases of academic dishonesty, and the establishment of a modified honor code (Bowers 1964, p. 148).

The rate at which Ashesi University was growing and the increased demand for boarding facilities among the students is enough to alert Awuah that the time for the establishment of a permanent university has come. Being a non-profit university and bearing in mind the number of students it has currently, it became hard for Awuah to collect enough funds to facilitate its expansion. However, there are various methods that he can use to help him gather the required money. These are a direct appeal to the public for grants, use of professional programs, direct-managed programs, and grants. The growth rate that has been attained by the university speaks for itself. As Awuah can be able to present his evidence of the progress he has made, it is the right time that he decides to pass the idea to other people willing to establish private universities in Africa. He can do this by organizing public workshops where he can travel to other countries and sell his idea. He can also organize programs where willing people can come to Ashesi to familiarize themselves with how the university is managed (Bowers 1964, p. 152). The idea can also be sold through the establishment of a university website where interested persons can log in and get the information they require.

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Dealing with Academic dishonesty

Use of honors code

Honors codes are developed in the university through the collaboration between the students and the school management team. Here, all stakeholders abide themselves to keeping to the set regulations governing their conduct in and during any kind of academic assignment. Ashes University needs to come up with such codes where every student is required to go through them, have a clear understanding of their provisions, and then sign them to show that he or she has pledged to abide by the regulations. Developing an honor code that stipulates the penalties suffered by anybody found guilty of academic dishonesty would lead to all students distancing themselves from any sort of activity that would be deemed as academic dishonesty. In the code, the university would outline all obligations bestowed on students in fighting academic dishonesty. Giving the students the responsibility of fighting the problem that significantly emanates from them would help the university greatly in curbing the menace (Bowers 1964, p. 155). This is because every student would strive to ensure that he or she does not abdicate his or her obligation. It can help in eliminating the need for the university having to proctor all examinations. In most cases, students tend to cheat whenever they are supervised. Giving students the responsibility of ensuring that they do not cheat in the examination would make them accountable for any case of dishonesty thus discouraging them from participating in academic dishonesty.

The university can come up with a student-controlled judiciary responsible for dealing with reported cases of academic dishonesty. Through students passing sentences on their colleagues found guilty of academic dishonesty, they would retract from getting involved in such dishonesties.

Modified honor codes

At times, there might be problems with the system of students’ self-governance, a weak university community, or the university may be having a large student body. Administering the honors code in curtailing academic dishonesty in such environments may prove unproductive. This calls for the establishment of a modified honor code as an alternative. Just as in the honors code, students are given the responsibility of hearing cases of dishonesty that arise in the university. However, in this case, all examinations are supervised and students are not authorized to claim to be in good conduct in case they are caught by their supervisors. The rate of growth of Asheshi University signals that a time will come when the university will have a large student body. This will make it hard for the university to use the honor code as a method of deterring academic dishonesty in the university. This underlines the need for the university to come up with a modified honor code. At times, students may fail to report their colleagues who cheat despite them not cheating. This makes it hard to get rid of the problem in universities. To avoid such cases, Ashesi can continue administering proctored examinations while students are left with the responsibility of punishing those found guilty of dishonesty in examinations.

Mixed Judicial boards

At times, lecturers would doubt the capability of students effectively punishing their colleagues found guilty of academic dishonesty. They may be too lenient leading to the problem not being eliminated in the university. To ensure that the university reaches a common ground concerning the method to employ in dealing with examination cheating, management in Asheshi University can establish a mixed judicial board. In this system, both the students and various faculties can be involved in fighting academic dishonesty. Lecturers can be given the responsibility of detecting examination cheating in the university and report the cases r to a body comprising of both the faculty representatives and students. The board can then listen to the case and determine the kind of punishment to be passed to the victim if found guilty. Unlike honor code and modified code where at times students may address a case in the favor of their colleagues despite them having cheated, mixed judicial boards can ensure that every case is treated fairly.

Dealing with the problem of building a permanent university

As Asheshi University continues expanding concerning the number of students being enrolled, it will reach a point when it will be difficult for the university to be managed on leased property. The increased need for boarding facilities and the cost associated with acquiring rental boarding facilities call for the university to establish its facilities. This marks the right time for Awuah to mobilize funds to cater to these problems. Apart from catering for boarding facilities, the establishment of a permanent university would help Awuah in increasing flexibility within the university. It will help the university offer different degree programs which it was unable to offer due to limited facilities (Bray 2010, para. 2). Being a non-profit initiative, it will be hard for the university foundation to raise all the required money. Awuah needs to go to other large foundations to solicit funds.

Use of direct appeals

Through this system, Awuah would be able to ask people from other foundations to fund his project by donating different gifts in terms of money or pledges. To be able to get substantial funds from foundations, Awuah and his team have to come up with a proper mechanism of selling their idea to people. Nobody would be willing to fund a project that appears to be beneficial only to persons running it. They need to come up with a good explanation of their purpose and why the foundations should fund the idea. Once they have convinced the foundations of the need for them to fund the project, Awuah and his team need to ensure that they keep regular contact with the donors. This will ensure that they continue supporting the project. Updating them with the progress made would help in harnessing their loyalty to the project (Bray 2010, para. 3). This can be done online to avoid the overhead of having to print numerous pages of the newsletter.

Professional and self-directed programs

Apart from going back to larger foundations for funding, Awuah can use professional and self-directed programs to collect funds for university expansion. Through a professional program, he can hire professionals to help him in organizing methods of raising the required fund. Bearing in mind the rate at which the university is growing, there is a need for an urgent fund to support its expansion. A professional program can facilitate raising funds within a short period. There is also a great need for the project to be known by many people to get more well-wishers. Through a professional program, the university can be exposed to a wider audience. However, the university will have to part with some money to get these services (McRay 2009, para. 3).

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On the other hand, Awuah would opt to raise funds through a self-directed program. Unlike a professional program, in the self-directed program, Awuah and his team would be responsible for managing all activities involved in fundraising. This would allow them to change their method based on the response they get from the target group. They would be able to get a response from the foundations’ members and make alterations in their campaign to best attract attention from larger foundations. However, for the method to be successful, it would require Asheshi’s management team to be fully devoted to the program. This is because of the need for the team to develop the program from scratch. It would require some time for the program to be functional (McRay 2009, para. 5).

Replicating the idea across Africa

Despite Ashesi University going through ups and downs for some time, Awuah managed to stabilize the situation in the university. Currently, there is a great need for quality universities around Africa. Most of the students are not willing to study in most of the public universities available due to the poor quality of graduates coming from the universities (McCabe &Trevino 1997, p. 380). Cases of academic dishonesty in these universities have led to the public has a negative image of them. It has become hard for most graduates to get jobs despite them going through university courses. There may be numerous entrepreneurs around the continent who may be willing to start private universities but lack knowledge on where to start and how to run them. This is the right time for Awuah to replicate Ashesi’s model around Africa to cater to the need for quality universities in the continent.

Recommendations

In a bid to get rid of academic dishonesty in the university, Awuah ought to introduce a mixed judicial board in the university to cater for cases of students found cheating in examinations. This method will ensure that every incidence is dealt with indiscriminately. Using honor code or modified honor code would lead to incidences of students being lenient in punishing their colleagues found cheating in the examinations. Establishing a body managed by faculty representatives only to deal with academic dishonesty would result in cases of lecturers intimidating students that they do not like. Incorporating all stakeholders in dealing with dishonesty would ensure that every case is well investigated and the right punishment given to the victim (Bushway &Nash 1997, pp. 590-623).

Based on the rate at which the campus is growing, it is high time that Awuah needs to contact larger foundations to raise funds for the construction of the university. Due to the high amount of money required for university construction, it is hard for the university foundation to raise the money by itself. An increase in demand for services offered by Ashesi University and costs associated with running the university under leased property underscores the desire for Awuah to solicit funds as early as possible. This can be achieved through direct appeals to large foundations. Awuah needs to make sure that its appeal looks more attractive to donors by clearly stipulating their purpose for the project. The high demand for quality universities in Africa coupled with the need for ethical lectures calls for the establishment of private universities with services such as those offered by Asheshi University. There is a need for Awuah to take the initiative of replicating the idea to other parts of the continent (Decoo 2002, p. 23).

Reference

Bowers, W. J., 1964, Student Dishonesty and its Control in Colleges. New York: Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University.

Bray, L 2010, “ Non-profit Fundraising Methods: An Overview”, Web.

Bushway, A. & Nash, W. R 1997, School Cheating Behavior. Review of Educational Research, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 590- 623.

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Decoo, W., 2002, Crisis on Campus: Confronting Academic Misconduct. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Harrington, S. & Saloner, G. 2008, “Case study: Ashesi University”, Web.

McCabe, D. L. &Trevino, L. K., 1997. Individual and Contextual Influences on Academic Dishonesty: A Multicampus Investigation. Research in Higher Education, Vol. 38, No. 2, p. 380.

McRay, G. 2009, “ How to Get Funding For Your Non-profit (Part II)”, Web.

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