The University of Cape Coast is one of the rare sea front universities in the world. It was established in October, 1962 as a University College and placed in a special relationship with the University of Ghana, Legon.
On October 1, 1971, the College attained the status of a full and independent University, with the authority to confer its own degrees, diplomas and certificates by an Act of Parliament - The University of Cape Coast Act, 1971 [Act 390] and subsequently the University of Cape Coast Law, 1992 [PNDC Law 278].
The University was established out of a dire need for highly qualified and skilled manpower in education to provide leadership and enlightenment. Its original mandate was therefore to train graduate professional teachers for Ghana's second cycle institutions and the Ministry of Education, in order to meet the manpower needs of the country's accelerated education programme at the time. Today, with the expansion of some of its faculties and the diversification of programmes, the University has the capacity to meet the manpower needs of other ministries and industries in the country, besides that of the Ministry of Education.
The University started with two departments, namely: Arts and Science. These departments developed into faculties in 1963. In order to achieve the set objectives, in 1964, the University created two more Faculties, namely: Education and Economics & Social Studies [now Faculty of Social Sciences]. The fifth faculty [School of Agriculture] was established in 1975. The Faculty of Science was split into the Schools of Physical and Biological Sciences during the 2002/2003 academic year while the Department of Business Studies was also elevated to the School of Business with effect from the 2003/2004 academic year.
The National Accreditation Board (NAB), at its 63rd Meeting held on October 4, 2007 approved a three- year Interim Accreditation for the running of the Basic Sciences component of the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB CHB) programme at the School of Medical Sciences of the University of Cape Coast. In view of this, the School of Medical Sciences became fully operational when on Thursday, January 17, 2008 the first batch of students was matriculated.
In order to make graduate studies more relevant and responsive with research related to the economy, the Board of Graduate Studies was changed to the School of Graduate Studies and Research (SGSR) with renewed and enhanced mandate with modules that will focus on action and demand-driven research.
The University has expanded the scope of its Sandwich Programmes to include: M.Ed. [Admin], M.Ed. [Management], M.A. [Human Resources Management], M.A. [Human Resources Development], and M.A. [Democratic Governance, Law and Development, Environmental Management Policy and M.A. [Governance and Sustainable Development], as well as M.A. and M.Ed. [Guidance and Counselling]. The following programmes: B.Com. B.M.S. and B.Sc [Marketing] have been designed for H.N.D. holders. The University also runs sandwich programmes at diploma, graduate and postgraduate levels in Organisation Development [O.D].
Similarly, in the 2005/2006 academic year, the University introduced other new programmes namely: B.Ed. (Management), B.Sc. (Psychology), B.Sc. (Medical Laboratory Technology) and B.Sc. (Nursing). Additionally, an M.Ed. (Information & Communication Technology) was also introduced in the same year under the Centre for Continuing Education. The new programmes are to cater for the academic and professional needs of individuals, institutions and organisations whose activities relate to these programmes. With the introduction of these new programmes, the University has phased out its B.Ed. (Foundations) and B.Ed. (Population and Family Life) programmes. The 2007/2008 academic year also saw the introduction of new programmes at the graduate level in the Institute of Development Studies, namely, MA (Development Studies), M. Phil. (Development Studies), MA (Development Management) and M. Phil. in Peace and Development Studies. The Department of Physics also introduced a sandwich programme in B.Sc. Engineering Physics for HND holders.
The University has also restructured its degree programmes by de-coupling the study of professional education courses from the main degree course. This was done to allow flexibility and choice in its course offerings and thus cater for specific needs of students, while still focusing on its traditional mission of producing highly qualified and skilled manpower in education. In this regard, approximately 50 percent of students are admitted into the Faculty of Education to pursue Bachelor of Education programmes, qualifying as professional teachers, and the rest admitted into non-education programmes in the other faculties.
In response to the changing needs of society and those of the entire Ghanaian education enterprise, the University of Cape Coast has, over the last several years, progressively added to its traditional functions, the training of educational planners, administrators, agriculturalists, actuarial scientists, optometrists, information technologists, biochemists, environmentalists, laboratory technologists and experts in commerce, management, tourism, population and family life education, water and sanitation, molecular biology, biotechnology, computer science and livestock system managers.
From an initial student enrolment of 155 in 1963, the University of Cape Coast now has a total student population of over 35,922. The break down is as follows: 14,815 Regular Undergraduate Students, 2,146 Sandwich Students and 18,018 Distant Learning Students.
The University of Cape Coast admitted a total of 4,251 students into its various programmes for the 2009/2010 Academic Year. These were selected from a total of 11,730 candidates who applied for admission to the University.
In the 2008/2009 academic year, 1320 sandwich students were admitted to undertake Diploma, undergraduate and post-graduate studies. The number was made up of 941 post-graduate applicants and 379 undergraduate applicants. By gender distribution, 634 of the post-graduate applicants were males and 307 females. For the undergraduate applicants, 233 were males and 146 females.
The University of Cape Coast has, over the years, been admitting students from less endowed schools and other areas through the remedial science programme, mature students' entrance examinations and concessionary selections from deprived schools identified by the Joint Admissions Board. For the 2008/2009 Academic Year, the University went further to admit about 80 students from a number of deprived schools in Ghana. For example, students were admitted from the Three Town Secondary School, Volta Region; Bonzo-Kaku Secondary School, Western Region; Obrakyire Secondary School, Central Region; Dagbong State Secondary Technical, Northern Region and Lassia Tuolo Secondary School, Upper West Region, among others to study various degree programmes. Besides these, a scholarship scheme has been established to cater for needy but brilliant students from communities around the University. The seed money was provided by the Trust Bank.
As part of its desire to vigorously promote distance education, the Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) has acquired sites in seven out of ten regions for the construction of permanent study centres. The centres will eventually serve as UCC campuses in the regions to run some campus-based programmes. Additionally, there is a sixty-billion Cedis IGF funded building complex for the CCE.