In response to concerns raised by the University Academic Staff Association (UASA) and in light of potential service disruptions, a significant meeting of stakeholders took place in Parliament at 12:00 pm on September 10, 2023.

The meeting served as a follow-up to a retreat held in Bo on September 28-29, 2023.

UASA had reportedly issued a 21-day notice to withhold their services if their concerns were not adequately addressed. To address this pressing issue, the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Higher Education convened a meeting with key stakeholders, including the Conference of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of Public Tertiary Educational Institutions (TEIs), UASA representatives, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), the Minister and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE), the Ministry of Finance (MoF), and members of the press.

The Deputy Leader of Government Business emphasized the critical role of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) in achieving quality education and affirmed the government’s commitment to this goal.

During the meeting, the Committee Chairman expressed concern over the reported notice by UASA, particularly given the large number of students who had successfully passed the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and were awaiting enrollment in HEIs.

However, it was clarified during the meeting that UASA had not yet issued the service withholding notice. UASA President reiterated that the notice would be issued if their demands, previously discussed during the Bo retreat, were not addressed.

The Minister of MTHE, Haja Ramatulai Wurie, discussed her engagements with various stakeholders since taking office. She provided timelines for resolving issues, indicating that severance benefits, backlog payments for staff, and promotions would be addressed by the end of the first quarter of 2024. Negotiations for Conditions of Service (CoS) would commence and be completed by the end of October 2023, before the 2024 budget hearings in November.

The Committee inquired about the reopening date for TEIs in the 2023/24 academic year, to which the Chairman of the CVCP, Professor Edwin J. Momoh, stated it would be on October 28, 2023.

The Committee made a plea to UASA not to issue a notice for withholding services, assuring that they were committed to resolving the outstanding issues to prevent any potential service disruptions. The meeting concluded with a renewed commitment from all stakeholders to work towards a resolution that serves the interests of students and educators alike.