Hundreds of engineering students at the University of Eldoret face expulsion after the institution warned them against skipping classes to protest lack of accreditation of their courses.
The more than 500 students in first to fifth years, who were picked by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) for the slots, no longer go to class, demanding that the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK) approve the courses.
They have boycotted classes for the past month and also refused to sit end-of-semester examinations. The institution has now warned them that they risked being expelled.
“Attendance of lectures, tutorials, seminars, practical sessions, field trips and other such scheduled courses of instruction is compulsory,” reads an internal memo to the students signed by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) Ruth Otunga.
“It is, therefore, an offence for a group or class to boycott lectures/practicals/fieldwork for more than two days consecutively.
“Such an offence may lead the whole group to be suspended from the university for a specified period.”
The university offers courses in civil and structural, mechanical and production, and agricultural and bio systems engineering.
None have been approved by EBK, putting in jeopardy the future of students as they may not practise what they learn once they graduate.
The board is normally tasked with certifying graduates who are supposed to practise engineering in the country. Before giving accreditation, it looks at the competency of courses offered and facilities at the university.
The stalemate could get out of hand.
On Friday, the students were chased away by armed police officers as they planned to meet the university’s administration to raise their issues.
Those who spoke to the Nation claimed that their concerns had not been properly addressed by the university, saying they had tried all channels but the institution was giving them a deaf ear.
“We decided that we will engage the university in a peaceful manner,” said a Third Year mechanical and production engineering student. “We have never been violent. But whenever we ask to be addressed over these issues, we are given warnings. We are now being told to vacate our rooms.”
They said they were never told about the lack of EBK accreditation before they joined the university.
The first batch of engineering students admitted by the university after it became fully fledged in early 2013, graduated last year without the EBK accreditation.
Last month, when asked whether the university was being considered for accreditation, EBK registrar Nicholas Musini said they would visit the university to assess its facilities and give the way forward.