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Varsities plan double intakes

Wednesday June 16 2010

By BENJAMIN MUINDI

The seven public universities may finally double their intake of students next year to end a backlog that has lasted for years.

Higher Education Permanent Secretary Crispus Kiamba said a detailed survey of what each of the universities requires for the intake has been carried out.

This means that newcomers for the academic years 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 will be lumped together. Universities would then admit 20,000 more students, bringing to 40,000 those joining the institutions under the regular programme for at least two years.

“Talks are already ongoing with the Treasury on alternative means of funding for the universities,” Prof Kiamba said on Tuesday at a meeting with a Parliamentary Committee on Equal Opportunities.

The ministry was considering floating a Universities Bond at the Nairobi Stock Exchange to raise cash for the double intake — a move that will level the playing field for poor students, who lose out to their wealthier counterparts who can afford higher education in private universities.

However, the admissions will put a strain on the physical and academic resources that the universities are grappling with in converting the institutions into enterprise centres.

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“This must be dealt with cautiously with a view to improving university education,” Prof Kiamba said in earlier interview with the Nation.

Clear a backlog

The first double admission was in 1987 as the government moved to clear a backlog caused by long university closures after the failed 1982 coup. The last double intake was in 1990, which combined the last A level students and the pioneer 8-4-4 class.

The student backlog in public universities means their counterparts who enrol in the more expensive private institutions or parallel programmes complete their studies ahead of them.

“In many cases, by the time the regular students join university, those under the parallel degree programmes are usually gearing up for their third year,” said Higher Education minister William Ruto. “This is an inequality that should not be tolerated,” he added.