The way in which universities in the country conduct their business is set to change drastically as the government embarks on an audit of both public and private institutions of higher learning starting Monday.
Commission for University Education (CUE) Chief Executive David Some told the Sunday Nation that the exercise is aimed at interrogating the manner in which the higher learning institutions admit students, examine them and award degree certificates.
The move follows a public outcry about the quality of university graduates, especially those taking elite courses such as engineering, medicine, pharmacy and law among others. Prof Some said the exercise will be completed on February 10.
The universities had been given between January 9 and 16 to submit a self-assessment report ahead of the audit.
“We have received self-assessment reports from several universities and we are ready to start the exercise,” said Prof Some.
He went on: “The purpose is to audit universities on compliance with set standards in students’ enrolment into degree programmes at all levels, with emphasis on minimum admission requirements.”
Other areas of audit will include integrity of examinations, delays in release of transcripts and missing marks, award of degrees, with evidence of adherence to minimum standards on instructional hours and work load and graduation list for years 2012-2016.
The commission will also look at academic and research leaders and their qualifications and the ratio of permanent academic staff to part-time per academic programme in the last five years.
“Appointment and promotion of academic staff based on qualification and merit, documented evidence of their CVs at the time of appointment or promotion and adherence to harmonised minimum criteria for appointment and promotion of academic staff in universities in Kenya since October 27 2014 “will be interrogated),” added Prof Some.
He said the quality audit inspection will include interviews with different constituents of the university including students, teaching, non-teaching and support staff, alumni, management, senate, the council and board of trustees and will entail interrogating documentary evidence in support of presentations made and inspection of facilities where necessary.
The audit has been triggered by reports that some universities were admitting ineligible students into their degree programmes. Also cited were irregularities in examination systems and incidents of students missing their marks while some universities were said to be running unaccredited academic programmes.
The audit will cover over 70 public and private universities to identify those that have offered degrees to unqualified people.
The audit was triggered by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i who, in a hard hitting letter to CUE chairman Chacha Nyaigotti Chacha late last year, demanded a thorough audit of the universities’ processes with a view to flushing out those that eroded set academic standards.
“The net effect of the poor state of the university sector is a reflection of, to say the least, the ineffectiveness of your commission to carry out its mandate, as sole legal body charged with the responsibility of ensuring quality in university education in Kenya,” Dr Matiang’i censured the commission.