CUE raises alarm over low PhD enrolments as deadline looms

Wednesday February 17 2016

Commission for University Education Chief Executive Officer David Some.  FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Commission for University Education Chief Executive Officer David Some. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The Commission for University Education (CUE) has raised the alarm over low doctoral degree enrolment in public universities.

All public universities are required to only have lecturers who have at least a PhD degree by 2018, though students pursuing doctorates constitute only one per cent of the total student population in the country.

CUE Chief Executive Officer David Some said the November 2018 deadline still stands and asked universities to ensure that they meet the regulations.

“We want to ensure that lecturers in our universities are of high quality,” said Prof Some.

He also asked institutions to increase their focus on master's and PhD students to ensure they complete studies within the set time period.

A CUE report indicates there is no national policy on postgraduate training and for that reason there are few guidelines on budgeting, student loans, admissions and priorities on programmes and research.

“The commission also observes that enrolments in [master's] and PhD programmes remaining relatively low, the processing of students from the time of initial registration to graduation is too long, with the quality of preparation and supervision of graduate programmes on the whole quite weak,” adds the report.

It adds that as a result, the rate and numbers of postgraduate students being produced are inadequate to meet national needs that include staffing the increased number of universities, replacing an ageing faculty, and the professional cadres required in government, the private sector, international agencies and the NGO community.

The report indicates that postgraduate student enrolment remains small at 44,567, or only 10.1 per cent of the total university student population.

There were 40,173 students enrolled in master's programmes and 4,394 in PhD courses in 2014, compared with 395,920 undergraduates. Among PhD students, only 1,562 were women.

“At the moment [a] majority of faculty members, 5,900 representing 57 per cent of the faculty members, only have [master's] degrees and therefore, technically do not qualify to train postgraduate students,” adds the report by CUE.

CUE, established under the Universities Act, No 42 of 2012, is the government agency mandated to regulate university education in Kenya.

Kenya has a total of 48 universities spread throughout the country, 34 public and 24 private.