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Kenyan vice-chancellors see UK ties as answer to quality issues

Saturday March 9 2019

Sports and Culture Cabinet Secretary Amina

Sports and Culture Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed seen here during a gathering of Kenyan and UK university bosses where they discussed possibility of twinning programmes in a bid to boost quality for Kenyan institutions. PHOTO | COURTESY 

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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Kenyan universities are now seeking stronger ties with institutions of higher learning in the United Kingdom in bid to solve quality and management issues.

Vice-chancellors drawn from Kenyan public and private universities were in London this week where they discussed with their UK counterparts the possibility of joint courses, called twinning programmes in academic circles.

Twinning programmes allow students to study part of their course in one university and the remainder in another.

The scholars, whose universities have previously been criticised for focusing more on teaching than research, are now betting on links with top universities in world to boost their own credibility.

Sports and Culture Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said Kenyan universities could benefit from “cross-pollination” in which models used by the UK can be adopted in the country, including “deepening research.”

“We know the United Kingdom is the host to some of the best institutions of higher learning in the world. It is also not in doubt that the world today demands global collaborations to thrive and find new knowledge,” she said in a speech.

Some of the vice-chancellors from United

Some of the vice-chancellors from United Kingdom universities who took part in London gathering this past week. PHOTO | COURTESY

'TWINNING PROGRAMME'

Traditionally, linkages between UK and Kenyan universities have been in occasional studies in malaria, HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and other diseases as well as in exchange programmes or scholarships.

Under the proposed ‘twinning programme’, Kenyan students could in future earn concurrent degrees from Kenyan and UK universities.

Depending on arrangements, individual Kenyan universities will be compelled to offer curriculums that are similar to the UK.

The officials said the linkages will also improve their participation in research, raising their global credibility.

Kenyan High Commissioner to the UK Manoah Esipisu said the actual arrangement will depend on what the university bosses agree on, but the idea is to generally improve the profile of Kenyan higher education.

“It will be about working to build a new professional academic cadre. Its work is to support young people to grow professionally. The VCs can now use their association for structured engagement,” he said.

The gathering of the VCs is the brain child of former Alliance Girls High School Principal Dorothy Kamwilu, now an Education attaché at the Kenya Mission in London.

University bosses who attended the gathering are: Prof Victoria Ngumi, Prof Stephen Agong of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Prof Stephen Waudo (Mt Kenya University), Prof Julius Nyabundi (Maseno University),  Prof Mary Walingo (Maasai Mara University) and Isaac Kosgey of Moi University.

Other university bosses in attendance are from Taita Taveta, Management University of Africa, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology and TVET Authority.

Bosses from UK universities such as St Andrews University, Scotland, University of Coventry, Kent, Birmingham, Nottingham Trent, Nottingham, Imperial College, King’s College, Birkbeck-University of London, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine attended.