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Audit planned to weed out dubious universities

Tuesday December 12 2017

Education CS Fred Matiang’i

Education CS Fred Matiang’i (left) gives Amref group chief executive officer Githinji Gitahi a letter of interim authority that allows the institution to offer degree programmes. He issued the letter during Amref Health Africa’s 31st graduation ceremony in Nairobi yesterday. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

OUMA WANZALA
By OUMA WANZALA
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ELIZABETH MERAB
By ELIZABETH MERAB
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A number of private universities operating on the basis of a letter of interim authority are now on the spot after Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i directed that their activities be audited.

Dr Matiang’i ordered the Commission for University Education (Cue), which regulates higher education, to conduct the investigation as soon as possible, warning that institutions that will be found unsuitable will be deregistered.

He announced a major shake-up at universities, which he said will be painful. It includes a possible reduction in the number of universities operating in the country.

Speaking during the Amref Health Africa’s 31st graduation ceremony in Nairobi on Monday, Dr Matiang’i instructed Cue to enforce the statutory requirements on university education without mercy.

“It is an exercise I would like completed as soon as possible. Those institutions that have held letters of interim authority beyond the statutory period should be closed,” said the CS.

INTERIM AUTHORITY

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“You cannot hold a letter of interim authority for eight years, 10 years and you have not justified reasons why you cannot establish universities.”

He added that some of these institutions were the ones selling degrees on the streets.

“We will not accept that and I am asking the university sector to be prepared for a massive shake-up because we have to live up to the standards we have set for ourselves. Our country is respected across the world because of the standards we have set. We have 450 Kenyan academicians and researchers doing serious work in the world,” said the CS.

“We are operating kiosks that we now call universities. The reforms will be painful but we must uphold our standards,” said Dr Matiang’i, warning that universities that have surpassed the stipulated time should be ready to close shop.

PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES

He said some of the private universities cannot pay lecturers and fulfil their financial responsibilities, adding that the ministry will not wait to see students waste their money at such institutions.

The institutions with letters of interim authority include Aga Khan University (2002), Kiriri Women’s University of Science and Technology (2002), Gretsa University (2006), Presbyterian University of East Africa (2007), The East African University (2010), Management University of Africa (2011), Pioneer International University (2012), Riara University (2012), Umma University (2013), International Leadership University (2014), Zetech University (2014), Lukenya University (2015), RAF International University (2016) and Amref International University (2017).

He asked more university senates to revoke degrees irregularly awarded to Kenyans, especially politicians.

REFORMS

On the differentiated unit cost, the CS said universities will be funded based on their programmes, adding that there is no reason for one university getting more resources than others.

He said with the reforms, it will be difficult for some private universities to survive and those that will continue to exist will offer their best.

Amref Health Africa also received a letter of interim authority and will now offer degree programmes.

“As you join the other 73 universities in the provision of university education in Kenya, I call on you to safeguard quality,” said Dr Matiang’i.