In Summary
  • Dr Matiang’i pledged to enforce the recommendations made in the report, noting they will be painful and disruptive, but inevitable.
  • Shortage of lecturers is a serious challenge across all the universities; most of them handling large numbers of students hence compromising quality.

For two consecutive years, 2015 and 2016, a private university awarded degrees to candidates who had not qualified for them, as they never met graduation requirements.

The students had either not attended classes for the required number of hours or had irregularly been given waivers on some courses under the credit accumulation and transfer system.

In some of these cases, students apparently completed bachelor’s degree courses within nine to 12 months - a rare feat - because the courses ordinarily take a minimum of four years.

And there are clear stipulations for the student-lecturer contact hours.

According to Commission for University Education regulations, a bachelor’s degree is only awarded when a student has attended classes for a given number of hours as follows: applied sciences – 2,240; arts, humanities and social sciences – 1,680; medical and allied sciences – 3,960; pure and natural sciences – 1,785.

Master’s degree courses take 630 instructional hours.

As a procedure, all students’ graduation in any academic year must be approved by the university senate and that is subject to evidence that they did all the course work and sat all the examinations and passed – and ratified by external examiners.

Such procedures are not followed in some of the universities.

The lists of graduating students are presented to the senate and approved, but are subsequently altered, bringing on board those who never qualified.

In extreme contrast, some postgraduate students took too long to complete master’s or doctoral degree courses.

For instance, it took some students nine to 14 years to complete master’s studies and 11 years for doctorate.

Another private university got approval to offer a diploma course in clinical medicine but went ahead to offer degree studies in medicine and surgery, meaning it admitted and taught the students fraudulently.

These are among the findings contained in a report on universities that was released this week in Nairobi by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.

The report was based on an audit conducted among the country’s 70 universities in the past five weeks.

It details major shortcomings in the institutions, such as missing marks, poor supervision of postgraduate students and low completion rates.

Dr Matiang’i pledged to enforce the recommendations made in the report, noting they will be painful and disruptive, but inevitable.

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