Candidates who sat last year’s secondary school exit exams have been assured of placements in higher-learning institutions despite the partial lockdown.
Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) chief executive John Muraguri told Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education Examinations (KCSE) candidates that the agency was working round the clock despite the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are doing our best to remain on schedule. These are difficult times but automation is proving helpful to us,” Mr Muraguri told the Nation by phone. He said the agency is observing developments daily. The government has indicated that all candidates who attained grade C+ and above will join universities.
The first revision of courses started in February and ended on March 9 to pave the way for placements before unsuccessful candidates are invited for a second revision. After that, KUCCPS will release the results to allow the students to join their institutions in September.
The students will also be given a one-month window to change universities. Some 125,449 candidates will be placed in universities against the available capacity of 193,878.
The students are likely to face a funding crisis in terms of loans due to an increase in the number of qualified candidates. Last year, 90,000 joined universities, 35,000 less than this year.
The Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) has said that Sh6 billion is required to support the extra students in universities and Sh1.3 billion in technical institutions.
“We will work with whatever that we have, which means that some students will miss out on the loans,” said Helb boss Charles Ringera. The board was allocated Sh10 billion in the current financial year.
The board has been facing a financial crisis due to low repayment rates. Each student gets between Sh40,000 and Sh60,000, with a penalty of 4 per cent. Data from KUCCPS indicates that 688,928 students qualified for placement to tertiary institutions at various levels under government sponsorship.
A total of 563,479 scored between grades C and E and qualified for Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions. With lack of proper funding, universities could be forced to increase fees.
The government is already facing a demand of Sh8.8 billion as a pay hike for 32,000 university staff. The Universities Funding Board has hinted at plans to increase fees in public universities that have not been reviewed since the 1990s. Board CEO Milton Njuki said all stakeholders will be involved. There are 600,000 students in public and private universities.
An analysis of courses shows that the bachelor of education degrees have been the most preferred, receiving the highest number of applications.
Bachelor of Commerce was the second-most popular and pharmacy third. Bachelor’s of arts in quantity surveying, architectural studies and law are also among the most preferred courses by students.
Bachelor of science (electrical and electronics engineering), bachelor of engineering and bachelor of medicine close the top 10 most-popular programmes among students.
The data also shows that medicine, pharmacy, engineering, architecture and economics are the most preferred courses by best-performing candidates.