CUE approves closure of three varsities

Thursday January 25 2018

Kenya Methodist University

Kenya Methodist University students during a graduation ceremony. Kenya needs a third wave of university education reform aimed at ensuring that graduates entering the workplace have the competencies demanded by the job market. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

OUMA WANZALA
By OUMA WANZALA
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A regulator has recommended that a private university be shut down while two others have been given a year to put their house in order.

The Commission for University Education, in a multiagency report that has since been submitted to Acting Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, recommended that the letter of interim authority awarded to Presbyterian University of East Africa be revoked.

It also called for a forensic financial audit of Kenya Methodist University and Catholic University of Eastern Africa in a January 22 report.

The commission proposed that CUEA and KeMU be given a year to restructure their operations and get in a sound financial footing or their charters would be be nullified.

The fate of Presbyterian University of East Africa, which received its letter of interim authority in 2007, now lies in the hands of Dr Matiang’i.

COMPLETE STUDIES

If the minister approves the recommendation and gazettes it, the university will start winding up its activities.

However, CUE will have to ensure that students complete studies or are transferred to other institutions.

The commission also recommended that the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service stop sending government-sponsored students to the three learning institutions.

For the last two years, the universities have been receiving hundreds of students sponsored by the government.

The report cited blatant conflicts of interest between the church and the universities and gave them three months to address the problem.

“KeMU workers reported being intimidated and not being promoted because they were not unionised,” states the report.

GOVERNANCE

“CUEA, Presbyterian University of East Africa and KeMU should stop engaging the service of consultants, particularly in the governance. The consultants reflect a creation of a new governance organ that has no legal basis and whose costs are sinking the institutions into more debts. KeMU was advised by its consultant to take Sh6 billion from a funding company in China but...it is in no position to pay the loan.”

The report adds that given the insolvency of the three universities, a forensic audit should be undertaken  to establish their financial stability, suitability and ability to function optimally.

The team visited the institutions in September and inspected them, specifically on governance, management, financial stability and students’ welfare.

In December, Dr Matiang’i said the government would revoke letters of interim authority of universities that had gone beyond the stipulated period.

A university is required to have a letter of interim for a period not exceeding eight years.