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Editorials

EDITORIAL: Varsities should scrap unviable programmes

universities
Kenyan universities have been left with 22,298 unfilled places. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

There is no reason why universities should continue offering degree programmes that are not attractive to students and the labour market.

The recent placements have revealed that some degree programmes and universities do not attract students.

Kenyan universities have been left with 22,298 unfilled places after candidates who sat the national entrance exams last year were selected for degree courses.

The Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service data shows that the 68 public and private institutions admitted 122,831 students against available space for 145,129.

The duplication of courses has seen some universities run near similar programmes. University education should mirror trends and shifts in the labour market, hence retain trainings that have demand. Consolidating similar academic programmes to make them market oriented is also a viable option that the institutions can explore.

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Scrapping others altogether is another option that the ministry working with the institutions should push. Such a move would save resources for the cash-starved institutions.

At the same time, the Ministry of Education should now come up with a plan to merge institutions that are operating under capacity.

Last year, the ministry announced plans to merge some universities and close some satellite campuses, only to change the position later.

Unfilled places and acute funds shortage facing universities have created an impossible burden to continue having many such institutions. The problem was created partly by the commercialisation of higher education and an inordinately large number of students who excelled in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams.

The merger and closure of some institutions would be the right move as the situation is not likely to improve in the coming years.

Some of the public universities that have shut some of their campuses because of low student numbers include Kisii, Laikipia, Moi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Co-operative (Meru) and South Eastern Kenya University (Nairobi). Admission to public universities of nearly all students who scored C+ and above over the past four years has reduced the pool of learners available to private universities and parallel degree programmes in public universities.

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