Demographics of Faculty

Frank Odwesso Photo: Frank Odwesso

Demographics of Faculty

Higher Education in the region faces a key challenge: A surge in student enrolment is underway driven by a combination of population growth, economic development and increased participation rates. Good news, but where will the faculty come from? At present investment in faculty might have a rather low profile. There also seems to be few comprehensive national, regional or continental systems that model anticipated growth, project faculty capacity and need by specialisation and inform recruitment and development plans at a system level.

Even with the most intelligent use of technology and the most effective blended learning models, individual Higher Education institutions are going to have a tough job ensuring they have sufficient faculty ready in place with relevant expertise. If they do not, the consequences will be serious not just in terms of unfulfilled potential, social and economic development for Africa’s youth but also for the implications of social unrest and migration.

Ghana for example has already shown impressive increases in enrolment rates in tertiary (gross) from 8.63% in 2008 to 16.07 % in 2016 (source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics). With a current population (2016) of c 28.2 million expected to grow to 50.4 million by 2050 (source: Population Reference Bureau) Ghana’s student population - with only a modest further increase in participation to 20% - could rise by almost 3 million by 2030 and 5.5 million by 2050. Currently Ghana has an overall amount of 213 accredited Tertiary Institutions including 10 public universities and 41 public colleges. All other institutions are private, including polytechnics and colleges (source: Ghana National Accreditation Board, 2018).


Inspired and connected by ESSA, the Association of African Universities (AAU), the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) of Ghana, the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) and the MASTERCARD FOUNDATION launched a “Demographics of Faculty” initiative in January 2018, with a Ghanaian pilot.

The expected outcomes of this pilot are: 

  • Improved knowledge among university management on how to use data to improve governance, especially planning faculty recruitment and retention, within the tertiary education system.

  • Enhanced ability of universities to respond to data requests from national regulatory bodies as well as regional and continental organisations.

  • Improved ability of universities to plan and justify faculty recruitment and to develop rational and targeted faculty recruitment and retention strategies.

  • Enhanced collaboration among education stakeholders engaged in production of and/or use of data on university faculty.

Our Goals

  • We don’t think that the issue of the” Demographics of Faculty” is getting enough attention. Put simply, the focus has been on the demand side of the equation- “The youth bulge”. As a result, many young Africans will not get the quality of education they deserve and economies and societies may also underperform their potential because of lack of faculty in place when needed. We want to change this. 

  • By assembling the facts, changing the discourse and creating robust planning tools for Higher Education institutions, ESSA and its partners want to influence the scale and nature of investment in developing high quality faculties to match both need and demand.  The Association of African Universities are taking the lead in this process.


Government of Ghana, National Council on Tertiary Education (NCTE)
Government of Ghana, National Council on Tertiary Education (NCTE)

Ghana’s National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) was established in 1993 as a supervisory body of Tertiary Education in Ghana. NCTE is devoted to providing leadership in the direction, functions, role and relevance of tertiary education in Ghana, leading Tertiary Education to new heights. NCTE is ESSA’s first government partner for the pilot on “Demographics of Faculty”.

Ghana’s National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE)

The African Association of Universities (AAU)
The African Association of Universities (AAU)

AAU is one of the key players in higher Education in Africa. With almost 400 members its mission is to enhance the quality and relevance of higher education in Africa and to strengthen its contribution to Africa’s development.

From its headquarters in Ghana the AAU serves as a platform for African Universities to co-operate on research and to reflect and consult on issues pertaining to Higher Education. It possesses a unique capacity to convene and communicate with institutional leaders and policy makers from all parts of Africa. 

AAU formed a partnership with ESSA in 2017, and we have been working together on a range of projects, most notably the “Demographics of Faculty” and the creation of a “Pan African Academic Jobs Board”.  AAU also gave ESSA a prominent role at its 2017 50th Anniversary conference in Accra, expanding ESSA’s network and reputation at an early stage in its development. 

“ESSA is a great partner for the AAU, and I particularly appreciate their fresh thinking, dynamic approach and highly collaborative way of working. ‘Joining up’ is really part of their DNA!”

Prof. Etienne Ahile, Secretary General, Association of African Universities

The African Association of Universities (AAU)

Logo: The Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
The Population Reference Bureau (PRB)

The Population Reference Bureau (PRB), in Washington DC, is one of the world’s leading demographic institutions. It informs people around the world about population, health, and the environment, and empowers them to use that information to advance the well-being of current and future generations. Its flagship product is the World Population Data Sheet.

PRB works with AAU and ESSA on the Demographic of Faculty initiative. 

“ESSA has ambitious goals for addressing systemic obstacles to increasing returns on investments in higher education in African countries.”

Jeff Jordan, President and CEO

Population Reference Bureau (PRB)

Logo: Mastercard Foundation
Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation is one of the world’s leading foundations in the higher education space, with a deep presence in Africa especially in capacity building and scholarships.  The Mastercard Foundation is a natural partner for ESSA on the “Demographics of Faculty” project and has enthusiastically provided funding for the Ghana pilot as well as other support and insights.

The Mastercard Foundation