The fate of thousands of students pursuing engineering courses or who have graduated hangs in the balance after the professional body charged with offering practicing certificates made a fresh push to disown degrees from some universities.
The Engineers Board of Kenya (ERB) on Friday released a list of universities it acknowledges as training schools for engineers that excludes Kenyatta University (KU), Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) and the Technical University of Kenya (TUK).
But Kenyatta University is awaiting three of its course to be accredited and the board is expected to visit the institution any time now.
The move by the board implies that thousands of engineering graduates will miss out on professional accreditation by the EBR, narrowing their chances of getting jobs.
Only the University of Nairobi, Moi University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Egerton University and Dedan Kimathi University are allowed to offer specific engineering courses, according to the ERB.
“Accreditation is based on whether a programme is intellectually credible, coherent and meets national needs, needs of the students and stakeholders,” the ERB said on Friday.
“The board will only register those who have pursued courses it has accredited. In addition it is illegal for any person who is not registered by this board to offer courses. Training institutions are, therefore, invited to note that it is illegal to admit students for purposes of training in any engineering programme not approved by the board,” it said.
It is not clear on the reasons for this fresh push to discredit some universities as the board has been in discussion with the Commission for Higher Education (COE) since December last year after students from three public universities went on strike over the disapproval of their courses.
The Commission had in a list released last month on courses approved to be offered in Kenyan universities allowed KU, MMUST, TUM and TUK to offer Engineering degrees which ERB says it does not recognise.
The Commission’s CEO Prof David Some could not be immediately reached for comment.
Matters have been further complicated after the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) maintained it would prefer graduates who have been approved by the body.
“If you look at it from the perspective of students and the universities it looks like it is not fair, but as employers we are insisting on those who have met the standardisation policy,” said FKEs boss Jacqueline Mugo.
The decision by ERB has angered the affected universities and students who accuse it of discrimination and not considering the needs of the students.
“We have submitted our reviewed curriculum, hired lecturers and employers who have our graduates have not complained,” said Bob Mbori the director of Communications at MMUST.
“No university can be allowed to offer a course unless it gets Senate approval and from the COE, so you cannot say that they are not up to standard,” said Dr Mbori.
The Kenya National Universities Students Union termed the move as retrogressive.
“Definitely we must act. ERB is not looking at students interests because the matter has been around for so long,” said the union’s chair Babu Owino.