EDITORIAL: We need sanity in higher education - Daily Nation

We need sanity in higher education

Tuesday November 1 2016

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The closing of 11 university campuses offering questionable degree programmes is a timely intervention to clear the mess in higher education. In fact, there are many more universities and campuses that should be shut because they do not have the capacity to offer degree courses.

The fate of the campuses, which belong to Kisii, Laikipia, and Kabarak universities, is a consequence of unplanned expansion that has been allowed to go on for years. For the past two decades, universities have grown exponentially as demand for higher education soared. First, the government resorted to setting up new universities, ostensibly for deserving students to pursue degree courses. Second, private investors joined in to fill the gap and established universities across the country.

Whereas the earlier universities were created through careful planning, order was thrown to the dogs and the institutions were left to grow at will. Many universities went on an expansion spree, creating new campuses everywhere to attract students to shore up their revenues. Unfortunately, this was done against the backdrop of meagre resources such as inadequate supply of lecturers and teaching and learning facilities. The case of the Eldoret campus of Kisii University, where the School of Business and Economics registered 78 doctorate students yet it has only two PhD holders is a perfect example of commercialisation of university education. Unfortunately, regulation has been weak. The institutions never adhere to the regulations of the Commission for University Education, which is mandated to advise the government on the creation of universities, accredit private universities, and enforce quality standards.

Despite the need for more universities to absorb school leavers and others thirsting for higher education, their growth must be controlled. The commission and the Education Ministry must conduct regular audits of all universities to ascertain their capabilities and those found wanting shut. They must also enforce the regulations. We need sanity in higher education.