Kenya: Government Orders Closure of 11 Campuses Over Quality

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i
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The government has ordered the closure of 11 campuses in three public universities for offering sub-standard education.

The campuses in Kisii, Kabarak and Laikipia universities were found to be operating with acute teaching staff shortages and offering programmes that have not been approved by the regulator.

Others are housed in buildings that are not conducive for learning, according to the investigation by a committee of the University of Nairobi’s two former vice-chancellors and a dean of the School of Law.

The Commission for University Education (CUE) had in January ordered that the three universities’ 13 campuses be shut, but Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i reversed the decision and gave them one year to introduce the necessary changes.

He set up a team consisting of Prof George Magoha, Prof Crispus Kiamba and Prof Patricia Kameri-Mbote to re-examine the campuses to verify the claims of low quality.

In it’s report, presented to Dr Matiang’i last week, the committee says it agrees with the commission’s findings and recommends the closure of 11 campuses, while calling for urgent reforms in the remaining two.

On Laikipia University, the committee recommends that Nairobi, Naivasha, Eldoret, Embu and Maralal and Laikipia campuses be closed from January next year because they are not viable.

It also recommends the closure of Kisii University’s six campuses — Isebania, Kehancha, Eldama Ravine, Keroka, Nyamira and Ogembo — leaving only Migori, Kabarnet, Eldoret and Kapenguria.

On Kabarak, the report notes that the Nairobi campus is not operating as a single spatial unit and advises the university to consolidate its operations in one location.

“The university has relocated the campus to one building. The committee visited the new building and observed that further improvements need to be done on that building, for example, the provision of emergency exits at the library and the building,” it adds.

LACK OF FACULTY STAFF

The report reveals that for instance, in the Eldoret campus of Kisii University, the School of Business and Economics has 78 doctorate students but only two PhD holders as teaching staff.

“These two lecturers also teach the 266 master’s students. The explanation that was given was that the gaps are filled by either having master’s degree holders teaching PhD and masters students or by part-time lecturers. The lack of faculty staff at the campuses puts to question the quality of learning in these institutions,” states the report.

The committee says the university is running too many programmes, some of which had not been accredited by CUE and recommends that they be reduced to sustainable levels.

“The rationalisation plan entails the transfer of approximately 400 students from Isebania and Kehancha to Migori Campus, 600 from Keroka, Nyamira and Ogembo to the main campus and approximately 200 from Eldama Ravine to Kabarnet,” says the report, adding that a rationalisation of programmes offered at the campuses was under way.

The report is critical of the management of Kisii University, saying its organs of governance and management “manifests a lack of capacity to carry out their mandates.”

“It was evident from the beginning that the involvement of the chancellor in the affairs of the university was marginal. The committee has advised that beyond his titular role, he must be involved in advisory and visitation.

Broad decisions such as the award of degrees and the establishment of campuses require his input,” states the report.

The committee says that directors and deans who are representatives of the Senate are not well versed with how academic programmes are run, adding that deans do not get involved in advising on the number of slots available for any particular class.

The report also notes that some universities shine at infancy but have been weakening instead of maturing into strong credible institutions.