The Education Cabinet Secretary will no longer have direct powers to appoint vice-chancellors, their deputies, principal of colleges and their deputies in public universities.
Instead, university councils will appoint the top managers in consultation with the Education minister after a competitive recruitment process by the Public Service Commission (PSC).
The Statue Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) 2018 Act which was signed into law last month by President Uhuru Kenyatta has taken away power of the university councils power to advertise, interview and recommend for appointment top university managers.
But, the latest change to the law risks creating deadlocks where university councils fail to agree with the cabinet secretary on appointments.
Experts in university education have raised concerns that the Executive could use PSC to decide who leads universities and constituent colleges.
However, the law does not state how many candidates will be submitted to the councils for appointments after the interview.
In the case of chancellors, the university senate will in consultation with key stakeholders identify suitable persons for appointment.
“Five names shall be proposed to the Senate and submitted to PSC for shortlisting and identification of three suitable candidates ranked in order of merit.
"PSC shall forward the names of the top three candidates to the CS for onward transition to President, who shall pick one of the persons for appointment as the chancellor,” reads the Amendment Act.
However, according to the Universities Act 2012, a university in performing its functions shall- have the right and responsibility to preserve and promote the traditional principles of academic freedom in the conduct if its internal and external affairs.
The Act also provides that a university in performing its functions will have power to regulate its affairs in accordance with its independent ethos and traditions and in doing so it will have regard to- the promotion and preservation of equality of opportunity and access.