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Webster Ghana Makes Strategic Move to Enhance the Student Experience

By Charles McKinney, MA ’14

Webster University’s first international campus in Africa has reached a milestone in its brief history. Now in its third year of operation, Webster Ghana has made strides in magnifying its appeal not only to its current student body, but also to potential students both near and far. Last summer, the campus relocated to a business and residential part of Greater Accra, known as East Legon, to boost its competitive edge as a unique and diverse university with much to offer. Students, faculty, and staff celebrated the new locale’s groundbreaking with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony in October 2016. Peter Maher, Associate Vice President of International Campuses & Initiatives, visited the campus to endorse the memorable event.

The Transition from Good to Great

Webster Ghana’s original location, which opened its doors to the Ghana community in 2013, was situated in a part of Accra that did not embody an enriching university student experience. It was located near the American Embassy and was not favorable for Webster’s degree-seeking students. Thus, preparations to move the campus to a more feasible environment ensued. East Legon, where the campus now sits, is a booming part of Ghana’s urban capital of 2.3 million people.

“It’s located in a university hub,” said media communications specialist Sadat Laminu. “We have six other universities located within the same enclave. It’s in a special neighborhood in Ghana.”

Students have access to shops, banks, supermarkets, and other educational institutions in the vicinity, which can further enrich their college and/or graduate school experience.

“The campus is very much in the heart of East Legon, surrounded by several other academic institutions,” Maher mentioned. “As a place to both study and live, I think the students benefit from going to that location.”

Samuel Korley, a 2016 MBA graduate (with an emphasis in finance) who started his own business locally, can attest to the advantage the new campus provides to students. “The new campus is a world-class campus that has the library, admin building, and [student] hostels all in the same vicinity. It’s really strategically positioned.”

Webster Ghana employs some faculty members from the University of Ghana, an institution that boasts around 40,000 students. The new location makes commuting to campus convenient for them, as well as for commuter students, many of whom are graduate students who work full-time. For a more traditional college experience, students can choose to live in on-campus housing, fixed within the gated premises of the neighboring structures: an administrative building and an academic one.

“The campus is very much in the heart of East Legon, surrounded by several other academic institutions,” Maher mentioned. “As a place to both study and live, I think the students benefit from going to that location.”

“It’s a very, very well-developed building with modern classrooms and facilities, and I think it is very valuable to the students,” explained Maher in regard to its aesthetic charm.

Campus director Christa Sanders is proud of this accomplishment in Webster Ghana’s growth and believes that this positive change will result in an increased interest and participation in the programs and activities offered there. The campus now has a computer science major for the undergraduate program in addition to its management, media communications and international relations majors. Furthermore, psychology and finance will be introduced in the upcoming academic year. New graduate programs are also being considered in addition to the MBA and MA in international relations programs.

“I believe that in the future we will see additional graduate programs added,” said Sanders. “Currently we are considering bringing cybersecurity, as the banking and finance industry, as well as the government, will particularly find this program attractive."

It is likely that more programs and course offerings will result in higher enrollment numbers, setting Webster Ghana on a steady path toward accelerating growth and expansion.

It is likely that more programs and course offerings will result in higher enrollment numbers, setting Webster Ghana on a steady path toward accelerating growth and expansion.

Global Storytelling Tour

In March 2017, associate professor Lawrence Baden, who teaches journalism and media law classes at Webster’s main campus, traveled with a group of six communications students to the Ghana campus in collaboration with students and faculty of Kent State University. The two-week storytelling tour was meant not only to expose students to media protocol and practices in Ghana, but also to provide them with an insightful view into the history and culture of a nation and its people.

“[The students] met some amazing people; probably the most famous painter in Ghana, one of the most famous singers of all time in the country, and maybe the best rock drummer the country has ever produced,” said Baden. “They met people with amazing stories wherever they went.”

The students left this international experience with a plethora of stories and memories and with the promise to concoct something meaningful upon their return home.. As a matter of fact, Baden noted, “they have the potential to create probably the best internet website on art and artists in Ghana that exists.”

Indeed, students had the opportunity to tour some of Ghana’s major media houses, and Laminu arranged these visits.

“It was an amazing experience largely because you don’t get to meet all of these people on a normal day,” said Laminu.

They witnessed the news production system and how the local people operate in a regular newsroom setting. It was evident that ordinary citizens crave news continuously as Baden pointed out, “I was surprised at how hungry people were for news. People consumed news. Everyone I met knew what was happening with Ghanaian society and major stories of the day in Ghana.”

The students left this international experience with a plethora of stories and memories and with the promise to concoct something meaningful upon their return home.

Webster Ghana’s Future: Capitalizing on its Unique Dynamism

With the strategic campus relocation to a more dynamic part of Accra come fresh possibilities for Webster to build its brand through new partnerships, greater recruitment plans and an expanded curriculum that will attract more regional, national and international students.

“I believe that the future is positive because the response to Webster Ghana here in the West African sub region and across the continent is really positive and exciting,” said Sanders.

The campus seeks to create short-term certificates and a possible minor in Africana studies in the near future to leverage its unique positioning in the Webster global network of campuses.

“We believe there is great support for Africana Studies at Webster,” Sanders said, of how this course offering would draw short-term study abroad students to that part of the globe.

Korley can vouch for the rewarding experience he had at Webster Ghana, indicative of the actively supportive role he plays as an alumnus eager to give back in any way he can. He most recently did so as the featured alumni speaker at this year’s graduation ceremony in Accra.

“It felt like a community more than a school,” Korley said of his overall experience. “Everything I do right now in my life, I owe that to Webster.”

Sanders, Maher, Laminu and Baden all concurred that a trip to Webster Ghana would be more than worthwhile and necessary in order to best experience the progressive direction in which the campus is headed.

“A mind-blowing experience” Baden calls it, best reserved for serious and globally aware students ready to embrace a “life-altering” adventure.

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