Last year’s Form Four candidates snubbed 16 programmes on offer in 10 universities, raising questions about the effectiveness of higher education reforms started by the government last year.
The courses have a capacity of 795 students but none of the candidates who qualified for university admission last year showed interest in them, according to figures from the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) released on Tuesday.
The courses include Bachelors of Science (BSc) in Automotive Technology, Bachelor of Technology in Building Construction, Bachelor of Technology in Renewable Energy, Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering and BSc in Energy Technology.
Others are BSc in Renewable Energy and Technology, BSc in Aquatic Resources, BSc in Animal Production and Nutrition, BSc in Oceanography, BSc in Agricultural Education and Extension, BSc in Fisheries, BSc in Economics and Statistics, BEd in Technology, Bachelors of Commerce, Bachelors of Laws and Sharia, and Bachelor of Agribusiness management.
Significantly, all the courses are in the sciences and technology, which are expensive to mount, owing to laboratory equipment, libraries and availability of appropriate faculty, which is a huge blow to the universities offering them.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha last year promised to overhaul the entire higher education sector, which, he said, was riddled with duplication of courses, useless degrees and financial wastage.
More than a year since the former Kenya National Examinations Council chairman and former University of Nairobi vice-chancellor took office, little success has been achieved.
The universities offering the unattractive courses are Egerton, Kisii, Embu, Pwani, Kabianga, South Eastern Kenya, Maseno, Meru, Umma and Tharaka.
At the same time, KUCCPS figures show that no student was placed in 56 other programmes mostly because they were enrolled in their other choices.
These programmes, most in the sciences, have a capacity for 2,905 students.
Some of the courses are in Zoology, Environment, Botany, Commerce, Forestry, Medical Engineering, Sugar and Processing, Counselling Psychology, Climate Change and Fisheries.
The wastage is shocking because the government has been popularising the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) courses, which, it says, are critical for producing skilled workforce required for the attainment of Jubilee Government’s Big Four Agenda.
It’s notable that these programmes are only on offer in public universities, mainly because the private ones are much keener to run market-driven courses.
Yesterday, Prof Magoha who released the figures in Nairobi, asked the universities running unattractive programmes to “establish why this is the case and implement corrective measures.”
In what is clearly a disconnect between the Commission for University Education, KUCCPS and other regulatory authorities, universities which were in March stopped from enrolling new students in medicine courses over quality concerns have been assigned freshers.
Medical and dental practitioners’ boards and councils across East Africa in March ordered Uzima University College in Kisumu to close its medical school, which has about 300 students, over academic standards. The decision was to be reviewed in six months.
The councils also ordered Kenyatta and Kenya Methodist to immediately stop admitting new students to medicine degree programmes because of quality concerns.
Yet according to KUCCPS figures, 50 students have been enrolled at Uzima University College’s Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery programmes.
At the same time, some 50 others have been enrolled at the Kenya Methodist University’s Bachelor of Pharmacy programme and 50 others in Kenyatta University’s Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery programmes.
Uzima was called out for conducting lectures in incomplete buildings, failure to establish departments for basic sciences, over-enrolment and gaps in staffing.
It scored 49 points out of 100, leading the inspectors to conclude that “the school has not complied with the minimum requirements for training of medical students and should therefore close the institution and redistribute its students to other medical schools.”
KU, one of Kenya’s oldest universities, was ordered to stop admitting students for medicine and surgery programmes for failure to follow EAC guidelines on training and quality.
KeMU, which scored 59 per cent in the survey, was cited for over-enrolment, poor staffing ratios in both pre-clinical and clinical programmes, infrastructure gaps, weaknesses in staffing and lack of accommodation for clinical students next to a hospital.
The inspection focused on governance, academic programmes, human resource, student affairs, infrastructure, research and innovation.