In Summary
  • A CUE report shows that a majority of students in both bachelors and post-graduate levels are opting for arts and humanities, shunning technology and sciences.
  • World Bank observes that the trend globally is such that graduates from technical fields find employment more easily than those from the social sciences.

The Vision 2030, Kenya’s long-term economic blue print, could remain just that, a pipe dream, if the current trends in university education hold sway.

The economic plan, which aims at transforming Kenya into a newly industrialising middle-income country by giving its citizens a high quality of life by 2030, is anchored on the hope that universities and polytechnics will turbo-charge it by producing top-notch graduates in mathematics, science and technology.

Yet according to a new study by the Commission for University Education for the 2016/2017 academic year, universities are doing quite the opposite.

The report shows that a majority of students in both bachelors and post-graduate levels are opting for arts and humanities, shunning technology and sciences.

MOST POPULAR

In addition to arts and humanities, the other popular academic programmes in both private and public universities are Business Administration, Life Sciences and Physical Sciences.

These courses recorded the highest increase in universities in the 2016/17 academic year, says the document by the Commission for University Education.

For instance, courses under Humanities and Arts increased with 177 programmes, and Business Administration with 52 from the previous academic year.

However, the programmes that are meant to drive the government’s Big Four Agenda — Manufacturing, Universal Health, Affordable Homes and Food Security — are proving to be the least popular. Manufacturing, for example, had only an additional two programmes in the same academic year.

The top four most popular programmes in the 30 public universities were Humanities and Arts (493), Life Science and Physical Science (420), Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (381) and Health and Welfare (331). The least popular courses were Law (8), Manufacturing (11), Architecture (43) and Services with 44.

NEED FOR SKILLS

None of the 18 private universities offered Architecture while there was only one course in Manufacturing, two in Engineering, four in Environment and Forestry and five in Education (sciences).

Most of the courses are in Humanities and Arts (145), Business Administration (11), Health and Welfare (65) and Education (Arts) with 64.

The same situation obtains in the five private universities’ constituent colleges and the 12 universities with Letters of Interim Authority.

This trend shows a huge disconnect between the country’s skills requirements and the production of labour from the universities.

It also demonstrates lack of communication between the government and the universities because it should be expected that the country’s development vision is well aligned with the workings of universities and colleges.

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