Legon Third Class as Good as First Class from Other Universities – Prof Aryeetey

Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, is reported to have told the university community that “A first class graduate from the University of Ghana must be capable and different from others from other universities.”

Campus of the University of Ghana, Legon.

ACCRA — To begin with, a third class from any university is not a particularly remarkable accomplishment, except where the numerical value of the figure three is construed to be weightier than one–naturally. Otherwise, it is only at the University of Ghana that a third class could be as good as a first class from another university.

On Radio Univers’ Campus Exclusive programme, the Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, is reported to have told the university community that “A first class graduate from the University of Ghana must be capable and different from others from other universities.” (Reports Israel Boafo Bansah; June 3, 2015 ).

The Vice Chancellor was responding to student concerns about the university’s new grading system, which the students fear would make it difficult to obtain the high grades necessary for a first class grade point. The university don had explained that the grading system would position the premier university strategically, to enable the institution compete well with other universities in the world. Prof Aryeetey had been invited by the student-run FM station to share his vision and administrative policies and also interact with the student population and other right-holders of the university.

Now, let’s proceed with integrity (Integri Procedamus), University of Ghana’s motto. Do graduates from other universities in Ghana wish they had acquired their degrees from the University of Ghana, Legon? As students of the University of Ghana during the 1990s, we made jests about being the fortunate ones in the country’s premier university while our colleagues in the two other universities at the time looked up to us for academic scholarship. Indeed, during our matriculation, our Vice-Chancellor, Prof George Benneh, had told the 1995 freshmen that we were very privileged to be part of Legon’s academic prestige and superior tradition of excellence. We believed him.

Those days, it was strategic for university applicants to secure admission to other institutions while they waited for the University of Ghana admission offer. Those who would have already commenced lectures at the other institutions would abandon their programmes and make haste to Legon when they were considered for the late supplementary admission. We believed (at least I did) that Legonites were quite convinced that all universities were not equal, and that Legon was in a class of its own.

A first class was a rarity in the 1980s and 1990s. There was never a roll call for students graduating with a first class. One or two very bright students were cherry-picked among many good and promising talents. First class students did not only meet the required grade point; they demonstrated higher levels of intellectual curiosity and displayed brilliant flashes of thoughtful insight when they were challenged to a contest of ideas. They prevailed–within the university environment and at the workplace.

Suddenly, there was a list of first class students who were never first in anything except passing the multiple-choice questions to make the grade point. Employers and industry experts started asking about the real value of first class degrees when candidates continually put out third rate performance at work. That was when both academics and educational experts started to sit up. In those days, first class students walked employment corridors with academic favour and intellectual glory.

If there isn’t much of a difference between a first and a third class these days, then Prof Aryeetey just made a bold point from his ivory tower–to titillate the curiosity of the academic community to endeavour to look deep and see the first in a first class before the record books picks it up. At this rate, a third class from Legon would be just as bad as a first from any private or public university in Ghana.

What makes a good university, by the way? How different are the products of Ivy League universities in the Unites States of America and Great Britain from those who settled for institutions that are at the bottom in world university rankings. Like currencies and football teams, there are stronger and richer universities and there are others that flip-flop between intellectual bankruptcy and resource starvation. The Yale University in the United States, former President George W. Bush’s alma mater, is reportedly richer than the country of Sierra Leone. And this was long before Ebola.

While there are no guarantees that a Yale or Harvard Engineering graduate would be more successful than a graduate from the best University in Sierra Leone, we are almost unanimous that the Leone graduate has a lot of catching up to do to be able to access one tenth of the employment opportunities and other social privileges that are available to the Harvard scholar around the world. It is, however, not impossible for a Leone student to excel at Harvard or Yale.

Sometimes we wonder: Do good people make good universities or good universities make good people?

Ghanaians who have experienced good university education in OECD countries often came back home with sad tales about how miserable our university education has been for so long. What is the value of a first class from an overpopulated university where one lecturer teaches and marks the scripts of 600 students? Until previously, computer science students in Ghanaian universities didn’t have any good computers to test their theoretical understanding of computer applications and software.

Yet, some of them (I know one) graduated with first class degrees and received applauses and handshakes from Vice-chancellors and Heads of state. How often does the Balme Library restock its classical history and civilization sections with new material and quality research from Ghanaian professors? And just by the way, how many of our lecturers obtained their PhDs in Ghana?

Those who did may have taken a decade to complete their research while their counterparts in from Cornell and Princeton enjoyed the collaboration and support of faculty to finish in time. There are even speculations that due to the large student numbers in Ghanaian universities, lecturers do not get round marking all their scripts after semester examinations. The lucky students who are making first class degrees these days are lucky indeed.



  1. All of us would have made such statements if we are given the chance to hold that position.. i will not condemn his assumption as i will term it but the fact is that awarding first class or better grades to students isn’t credible this days….most people are awarded first class not by virtue of their hard work but by virtue of ‘merit’….it’s about time we talk about competence rather than classes as corruption has invaded our schools

  2. But how come most legon students are in unemployed graduates association? Besides my friend did music in uew and met a lady who is also teaching same course in a shs . the lady always come for tutorials any time she is going to teach from my friend before going. maybe prof just woke up from bed he has the chance to come again

  3. In UG 40 is the pass Marks but orther Universities including private ones , have 50 to be their pass Marks , So Proff don’t joke because you are grown

  4. I knew students who trailed papers in UCC and were sacked , they relocated to LEGON and made SECOND CLASS UPPER, so come again Prof

  5. I dont think a professor will say dis knowin dat most graduate from other schools do perform better while legon students come out practicin homosexuality n lesbianism. I think dis are the courses in which a pass in other schools can b first class in legon. Legon is just a premier university by name but in actuality its natin. Prof. B careful cos there were profs b4 u.

  6. Prof are u reciprocating your statement,bcos the premier university(legon) is at the bottom of all the universities.UEW the superiors.

  7. That’s thrash .It’s not a group thing it’s the individual. It doesn’t matter which university you attend. I was in UG .so the vice chancellor thinks his 3rd class students are better than me. God save christ…

  8. Do u guyz fink Prof Aryeetey can decieve u.The fact is there are only two universities in Gh; UG & the rest …

    • I hope you are not a student of UG; if you are, then your grammar alone is enough to draw inference that Prof’s claim couldn’t be correct. Use “deceive” instead of “decieve”

  9. If we are looking 4 other schools to complain,then not u.Not even tech.We were expecting mayb UCC guyz to talk but Its rather unfortunate to hear 4rm U

  10. Pls read the statement very well before insulting the vc of leg on, he said if legon continues this way a third class student from UG can compete head on with first class student from other universities, that does nt mean a third class student currently can do that, what he tries to put across is that the university is on the right direction, pls don’t always be quick to Judi or insult others u will end up insulting urself just as this I am from University of Ghana even though I didn’t get third class I understand the English, u see wat he meant,those of u from other universities didn’t that’s y u r insulting him

  11. @jones,pluto,seidu,tampore nd others ur identities do not matter,where u studied do not matter but ur conduct vi-sa-vi ur utterance on the UG VC issues hav vendicated legon VC.graduates fr legon are trained to use their brains nd not their emotion.

  12. Am quite shocked at the level of naivity and sheer laziness most commentators on the vc speech ve said and written…. Yr inability to read, digest and digress the full text of the vc’s speech has informed yr diction. I think, u shud rather subject a hypothetical statement made by an astute man who has been to places and taught at institutions sme of you may neva dream of, to critical tinkin and practical reasoning…. Rather dan expressin emotions and makin shallow statements that are unacademic … I expect gud students from which ever universitis u r comin frm to b askin qtns such as.. 1. What system is the vc putin in place to transform the mediocre mindset i had abt his institution to a world class institution? 2. Is it achievable? And on wat parameters?? Etc….

  13. Bros,let us not make it a banter between the UDS and the University of Ghana.Though my VC didn’t speak well in his desperate attempts to justify why he had to change our system to disfavor us,I think he didn’t mention any university’s name.It is only when u school in UDS that u can tell what pertains there academically.Same can be said about the UG.We all have our misconceptions but it is only human to like your thing more than others.But no one should try to run down the other’s belonging.Peace! Very proud as a product of UG! UG for life! Progress with Integrity!

  14. @ Yahuza, if I was to be a student or an old student of UG, I would walk straight to the VCs office and tell him to his face that Sir you goofed. If sponsoring students to do exchange program with other universities will make the University a world class school, then tell him some schools in the country have taken the lead. And let’s I forget is he Aryeetey a “Prof” of what? I am really castodaising for how a so called Prof will make such a blatant statement. He is a disgrace to other VCs and Professors. I rest my case

  15. the fact remains that, despite the efforts of the npp to portray nana addo as wise intelligent and visionary he only managed had third class at legon, Normally, students regard third class students, as lazy and never do well academically,. that is the more reason why even in common wealth hall it is called Fakodidi certificate. By all indications, mills is still more intelligent wise and visionary than nana addo when you compare the personal attributes and character of the two personalities especially when you critically examined their educational back grounds, their public life, and their roles or contributions to national development, policies mills is always ahead of nana addo mills or ndc vision which was captured in their 2008 manifesto was to invest in people, expand infrastructure, build an efficient economy, create jobs and promote transparent government so far that is exactly what mills is doing. and many of us who read the ndc manifesto know that they are on track even though there are difficulties at times but we are humans.

  16. Comparison between Tsatsu and Nana.Tsatsu entered Legon at age of 9.Nana entered at the age of 16.Tsatsu read law at the age of 18 and at the age 19 he was called to the bar.Nana was called to the bar at 26.Tsatsu has an LLB first class degree in law.Nana Addo has a Third Class in Economics.They both went to Oxford.Tsatsu again obtained an LLB First Class degree.However Nana couldnt cope up with his course n droped.

  17. Seriously, i think first degree has been devalued. Anybody can go to any corner and after sometime receive a degree. On top of it, some of these students claim they have first class, which when compared to legon, knust, n ucc, they will struggle to make a third class.

    I gained admission into the university of Ghana (UG) in 2010. Around the same time, the university changed it’s grading system.
    Under the new system ;
    A= 80 – 100,
    B+= 75 – 79,
    B= 70 – 74,
    C+= 65 – 69,
    C= 60 – 64,
    D+= 55 – 59,
    D= 50 – 54,
    E= 45 – 49,
    F = 0 – 44.
    1st class = 3.60 – 4.00
    Second class upper = 3.00 – 3.59
    Second lower = 2.00 – 2.99
    Third class = 1.50 – 1.99
    Pass = 1.00 – 1.49
    Fail = 0.00 – 0.99
    Truth is, this grading system to a large extent defeats some aspects of University Education vis-a-vis socialization and other extra curriculum activities.
    The University of Cape Coast grading system is similar if not equal to that of the University of Ghana apart from the second lower part of the degree classification. Whereas in legon a second lower is from 2.00 to 2.99 in UCC it’s rather from 2.50 to 2.99. The Ashesi University College with respect to their grading system goes the UCC way.
    Now watch this, Under the Ghana Telecom University (GTUC) system;
    A= 70 – 100
    B= 60 – 69
    C= 50 – 59
    D= 40 – 49
    F= 0 – 39
    1st class = 70 – 100
    2nd class upper = 60 – 69
    2nd class lower = 50 – 59
    3rd class = 40 – 49
    Pass = 0 – 39
    It must be noted that KNUST uses same system. Unlike the UG, UEW or UCC which has a maximum Final Grade Point average of 4.00 GTUC or KNUST has a Cummulative Weighted Average of 100.
    The maximum Final Grade Point Average (FGPA) that can be made in both UG, UEW and UCC is 4.00. The maximum CWA that can be made in KNUST or GTUC is 100. Mathematically, a final FGPA of 100% in GTUC OR KNUST is Equal to 4.00 from UG, UEW or UCC.
    Assuming Rosemary graduates from the KNUST with a CWA of 64 she would have made a Second Upper but when same is converted to the UG, UEW or UCC system Rosemary drops to a second lower. Another example, Hilda graduates from UG with an FGPA of 2.80 and according to the UG system Hilda only qualifies for a second lower but when same is converted to the KNUST system Hilda jumps to first class with an CWA of 70.
    For converting a Cumulative weighted Average to a 4.0 GPA, Let’s use x to represent the percentage. The formula to use when converting a percentage into a GPA (with a scale of 4.0) is (x/20) – 1 = GPA.
    Just by eye inspection of the above one can clearly see that the GTUC and KNUST system is very much relaxed. This clearly tells that a first class from these Universities can never be seen as equal to that from UG, UEW or UCC.
    In the year 2000, UCC had a Vice Chancellor by name Rev. Prof. Agyepong, in that year the university turned out over 2000 students with ONLY 9 of them distinguishing themselves MAKING FIRST CLASS. Comparatively, the University of Ghana graduated close to 3000 students with about 200 of them in the first class bracket.
    7 years later Rev. Prof. Agyapong becomes the president of the Methodist University and at a ceremony where 150 students are graduating, 30 first classes were recorded. There is something obviously wrong somewhere! Indeed, if entry grades are things to go by, we are all aware that entry grades for the three Public Universities ARE ALWAYS better than those of students who enter the private universities.
    The FACT IS, most students who could not gain admission to the public universities due to their weaker grades apply to the private universities for admissions. If it is logical that entering a university with a weaker grade predisposes one to pass out with a concomitantly weaker pass, then what has happened in the case of Methodist University? Is it so because of the exorbitant fees private universities pay?
    I once worked with someone who went to a university and made a first class but couldn’t even operate a computer.
    After my national service in August 2015, I developed a desire for diligently going through job advertisements. I have noticed a trend. This trend worries me. This trend somehow also marvels me.
    Few weeks after the end of my service I saw a job advertisement by Guarantee trust bank (GTbank) online. They wanted graduates who had completed their service in 2015 and not more than 25years. Upon seeing those two I was elated until I saw the third criteria. A criteria that made me swallow saliva and after sit properly to read again. “MUST HAVE A SECOND CLASS UPPER OR BETTER”. At this point I asked myself “Do they want competence or they are recruiting people to teach?” After that a follow up question came in mind “Does Academic Excellence ensure competence in the job?” This criteria I find very strange. A not-fair and biased criteria.
    Total Ghana also did a recruitment same year which took same dimension.
    This injustice in the system inspired me to write this piece.
    It seems to be COMMON PLACE. Human Resource Managers now have a soft spot for academically excellent students! Most, if not all, have grown to believe that there is a direct relationship between academic excellence and success on the job and even in life as a whole. I beg to differ!
    Today, the concept of developing the mind is gradually eroding in our universities. Students are gradually losing focus on developing their minds and rather concerned in making an employable class or a class Human resource persons will greatly appreciate. It is of no surprise that students now have an insatiable penchant for “chew and pour” now, than any time in history.
    The degree class is seen as the definitive mark of achievement by many Human Resource Managers or employers. But then again, is working and studying same? One can be good in the latter and poor in the former!
    I do not write to say a first class or even a second upper isn’t good. It is very important to go to school, get a good education, and graduate with a “fantastic class as first class”. Such an achievement also provides a tactual evidence that colleagues, family and the wider public use to judge a person as more or less “successful”.
    For the system now, It virtually gives you a “machine-driven” advantage from the stage of job application to the next level. There is a ginormous amount of personal worth and gratification that comes with a first class degree. A first class at the university is incontestably valuable for what it is worth.
    Also, it must be noted that, indeed many have shown that going to a good school or getting a first class doesn’t equal success in life or at work.
    This practice of degree classification being a requirement has for a long time unduly stigmatised students.”r

  19. The author seems to think that grading is only a problem at Legon when actually Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Cornell, and any other school he has been told are without flaw all have huge issues with evaluation. At Harvard especially grade inflation is very high. At all those schools students with politician or wealthy parents and Jewish students get A’s since they control the school administration and money. Also look up the Harvard cheating scandals. The grass isn’t always greener.

  20. The reason why Harvard students have more opportunities around the globe compared to African students is because their elders build institutions and create work for their youth. Can you give an example of an African millionaire who created hundreds of jobs for young Africans? The Kantanka company is all I can think of. I am sure there are more, but in order for our graduates to get out if unemployment offices, our elders have to create work opportunities and our people in government and education will have to stop stealing the country’s money and invest in the young.


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