Kenyatta University is set to open its first Rwanda campus, becoming the latest Kenyan institution of higher learning to expand into the neighbouring country.
KU has acquired and furnished a building in Kigali in readiness for inspection by the Rwanda Higher Education Council, as it prepares to open the new campus “early next year.”
This will become the third local university that has expanded into Rwanda after Mount Kenya University (MKU) and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
“The university is currently working closely with the relevant Rwandese authorities and the contractors to ensure compliance and readiness of the proposed campus,” a briefing by KU on the planned expansion states.
“The Higher Education Council of Rwanda plans to inspect the campus this month in readiness for its operationalisation early 2016.”
The campus will initially offer undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in education, environmental studies, humanities, social sciences, economics and business.
Rwanda has a few public tertiary institutions including the University of Rwanda, integrated polytechnics, Institute of Legal Practice and Development and three nursing schools.
The rapidly growing east African economy has 15 private universities, offering an irresistible attraction to Kenyan varsities that have expansion plans. The total student count as at the end of last year stood at less than 90,000. MKU’s Kigali Campus was opened in 2010 and mainly offers courses in health education and Executive MBA programmes.
The Thika-based institution, one of the largest private universities in Kenya, has more than 4,000 learners in three locations — Kicukiro, Camp Kigali and Town Centre.
Signing a partnership
JKUAT, which also has a campus in Tanzania, set up in Kigali in September 2013 and is offering both undergraduate and post graduate programmes on full-time and part time basis.
The University of Nairobi and the University of Rwanda recently held discussions with a view on signing a partnership.
“We have conducted due diligence and decided to set up a campus in Kigali in line with our strategic plan,” said KU’s vice chancellor Olive Mugenda in an interview.
Prof Mugenda did not give an indication of the number of students that the facility or offer specific timelines on when the new campus will call for registration. The Economic Survey 2015 indicates that Kenyatta University had a total of 76,879 students in the 2014/2015 academic year, having grown by nearly one and a half times over the past five years.
Kenya has 17 chartered private universities and 33 public universities, hosting a total of 443,783 students. Most of these institutions have been rapidly expanding, opening satellite campuses across the country.
In Nairobi, for instance, JKUAT is in the process of acquiring the iconic ICEA Building as it looks for a permanent place within the city to accommodate its growing student population.
Kenyatta University bought Comcraft House, which has since been renamed KU Plaza, along Nairobi’s Haile Selassie Avenue. On the city’s Moi Avenue, the former Trust Towers was renamed MKU Towers after being bought by Mount Kenya University.