Kenya is seeking to carve a niche as an international hub for higher learning with a new policy targeting local universities.
The Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) has written to all universities in the country seeking their approval in order to facilitate admission of foreign students.
The country is seeking to follow in the footsteps of South Africa, which admits hundreds of thousands students from African nations, making it the second biggest beneficiary of student inflows from the continent after France.
Some of the issues the authority wants universities to address in order to attract foreign students include establishing international students offices, enhancing accommodation facilities and developing clear academic calendars.
“We have had a large number of foreign students applying for recognition and equation of qualifications from us. The law requires that all qualifications obtained outside the country are recognised and equated before they are used for admission for studies and also used to seek for employment,” reads the May 7 letter by KNQA Director-General Juma Mukhwana to all vice chancellors and colleges principals.
Dr Mukhwana said that in the interest of promoting internationalisation of education in Kenya, foreign students who wish to study in local universities should be encouraged to seek recognition and equation of their qualifications so that they can start their studies.
The authority is tasked with promoting harmony and better coordination of awarding, recognition and equation of qualifications in the country.
Kenya, he said, has joined the Africa Qualification Verification Network, which will provide real data and information for students who wish to join local universities.
“The network will address the issue of fake certificates and within 24 hours the results will be out,” the DG said.
The authority adds that Kenya is one of the top countries in Africa that is providing a huge number of students who are studying abroad, at 3.5 per cent.
Morocco leads with 11.3 per cent, followed by Nigeria (10.2 per cent), and Algeria (5.9 per cent). Others are Cameroon (5.3 per cent), Zimbabwe (5.2 per cent), Tunisia (5.1 per cent), Senegal (3.1 per cent) Egypt (3.1 per cent) and Botswana (2.3 per cent).
Kenya ought to be an international hub of higher learning and not just for logistics.
Data from the Commission for University Education (CUE) indicate that out of 4,730 international students reported, 66.38 per cent (3,137) were male and 33.62 (1,593) were female.
Tanzania produced the highest number of foreign students in Kenyan universities at 577, followed by South Sudan with 522 and Nigeria with 426.
Countries that produced the least number of such students include Austria, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, each with one student.
According to the authority, most African students prefer to study in France, South Africa, Britain, United States of America, Germany, Malaysia, Canada, Italy, Australia, Morocco and Angola.
For instance, in 2017, the US received more than 1.1 million students from other countries who went to study in its universities.