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Engineering students to repeat courses

Monday November 10 2014

University of Nairobi engineering students outside their lecture halls after refusing to take their end of semester exams on April 14, 2014 citing lack of preparedness. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

University of Nairobi engineering students outside their lecture halls after refusing to take their end of semester exams on April 14, 2014 citing lack of preparedness. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

BENJAMIN MUINDI
By BENJAMIN MUINDI
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Engineering students in public universities will have to repeat some subjects the industry regulator is dissatisfied with before they can graduate.

This is among the “mitigation measures” the Engineering Board of Kenya (EBK) and the universities are discussing to ensure the gaps in training as identified by the regulator are addressed.

The board had declined to approve some courses due to what it termed as universities’ lack of capacity to train, there by putting careers of thousands of engineering students, some of them awaiting graduation, in jeopardy.

This effectively means that the students will take longer to complete their degrees programmes, which in turn translates to additional costs.

An engineering degree course takes up to five years.

On Monday, both Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi and EBK registrar Nicholas Mulinge said talks were on to determine how the quality of training of the engineers will be improved.

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“We’ve looked at the areas that need improvement and the universities have given a timeline when they can meet the demands,” Mr Mulinge said.

“Students will have to resit certain units before we can accredit those degree programmes to ensure they are fully prepared for the industry.”

He emphasised: “Public safety must be prioritised in training and the re-evaluation is not to hurt the students. It is not our intention to keep the students in the universities longer than they expected but it is important that we remain firm to ensure our graduates are properly trained.”

PROTESTS

Several universities, among them Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Technical University of Mombasa, Dedan Kimathi, Kenyatta and Masinde Muliro had all been closed following student protests after EBK declined to approve some engineering courses.

Prof Kaimenyi said his ministry was working with the engineers’ board to ensure students affected by the closures graduate once the matter is resolved.

He said Higher Education Principal Secretary Colleta Suda was chairing a technical committee of public universities vice-chancellors to find more ways on how the issues raised will be addressed.

The Engineers Act (2011) mandates EBK to approve and accredit all programmes offered by public and private universities and other tertiary level institutions. 

Only four public universities — Nairobi, Moi, JKUAT and Egerton — have been cleared to offer some courses in engineering.

At the UoN, only five courses — Civil, Agriculture, Mechanical, Electrical and Electronics and Electrical engineering — will be offered.

Moi will offer 13 of engineering courses, among them Electrical and Communication, Civil and Structural, Textile, Chemical and Process and Production Engineering.

KU will offer five courses namely Civil, Electrical and Electronics, Energy, Mechanical and Manufacturing and Computing and Information Technology.

HIRED LECTURERS

At JKUAT Marine Engineering and Mining and Mineral Processing Engineering are yet to be accredited although the principal of the College of Engineering and Technology, Prof Bernard Ikua, said they had hired senior lecturers from the Netherlands, Korea and China to meet the quality demands.

Currently, the university offers Civil, Mechanical, Electrical and Electronics, Mechatronics, Agriculture and Bio Systems Engineering.

Egerton will offer only one course; Agricultural Engineering.

The principal at the College of Architecture and Engineering at the university, Prof Bernard Njoroge, said universities should stay ahead of the demands of the board by ensuring training was beyond reproach.

“Engineering courses have a huge implication on the lives of citizens, hence, the need to treat these courses with such seriousness,” Prof Njoroge said. “There’s a need for regulation and all institutions must be accredited.”