Friday, December 7, 2012

Varsity chiefs back higher learning Bill

Higher Education Minister Margaret Kamar

Photo/FILE Higher Education Minister Margaret Kamar. 

By BENJAMIN MUINDI [email protected] and JOHN NGIRACHU [email protected]

Varsities vice chancellors on Thursday welcomed the Universities Bill 2012 that is awaiting Presidential assent, saying it will improve quality of higher education in Kenya.

The VCs drawn from both public and private universities said the new law would weed out bogus institutions and establish stringent approval procedures for varsity programmes.

Chairman of Public Universities Vice Chancellors Forum James Tuitoek further said empowering the Commission for Higher Education — to be called Commission of University Education (CUE)— to shut down bogus institutions was long overdue.

“We need strict regulations in the higher education sector and that is why we are welcoming the new law to bring order,” Prof Tuitoek, who is also the VC of Egerton University, said.

Under the new law, offering a degree through a university that is not accredited will attract either a fine of at least Sh10 million, a prison sentence of at least three years or both.

The universities will be required to state their core courses plus the infrastructure they have or propose to put up before a charter is granted.

Foreign universities will be required to submit proof of accreditation from their countries of origin before they are allowed to offer degrees in Kenya.

Prof Tuitoek added that bringing the institutions under a single law would eliminate discrimination, where private and public universities operate under different laws.

Prof Freida Brown, who chairs the association of VCs of private universities, said the law had now “levelled the playing field for all universities to compete equally.”

“The establishment of central universities admissions and placement board will mean that government-funded students can apply to universities of their choice,” he said.

The new law says that constituent colleges and campuses of universities shall not share premises with incompatible businesses. Although the incompatible businesses are not specified, the original amendments had named bars, bus parks and markets.

The Bill went through Third Reading with input from Education Committee, MPs and Higher Education minister Margaret Kamar.

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