Executive degrees the next warfront for universities



Executive Master’s degree programmes are being fronted as the untapped revenue streams for public universities to venture into in efforts to dig themselves out of a debt hole crippling their operations.

In Kenya, only select private universities offer these courses that take at least two years and are intended for mid-career professionals who are employed full-time.

Strathmore University offers the Master of Business Administration (MBA) for Executives at 1,962,900 while Aga Khan University offers the Executive Masters in Media Leadership and Innovation (EMMLI) that goes for Sh1,656,000 ($12,000).

“Part of the reforms for the higher education sector is a look at extra income streams. We are looking at how universities can start having more executive programmes, which is a cash cow they should tap into,” said Universities Fund chief executive Geoffrey Monari.

The United States International University-Africa (USIU-A) offers the Global Executive MBA, bringing to three the number of private universities in Kenya offering the course.

Top-ranking public universities such as the University of Nairobi (UoN), Kenyatta University (KU) and Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) are yet to introduce the executive master’s programme in their course list.

Unlike the traditional MBAs that cover a variety of topics, executive master's degrees cover a specialised area of study and are typically offered by schools of business, schools of communication and health.

Students often attend classes organised into blocks of lectures in one sitting, then complete a large portion of the work on their own time and/or over the internet.

For instance, Aga Khan University’s EMMLI is delivered on Friday and Saturday evenings in a blended, (online and face-to-face), format through their learning management system dubbed Moodle.

The plan is to have public universities follow the footsteps of top global universities like Oxford, Cambridge and the University of Pennsylvania have tapped executive masters programs to supplement their earnings.

Pending bills for public universities hit Sh61.1 billion in May on stagnated State capitation and the scraping of Parallel degree programmes that used to generate billions for the institutions.

Unremitted pension tops the list of pending bills by institutions of higher learning at Sh24.5 billion, followed by Pay As You Earn at Sh17.7 billion and unpaid suppliers at Sh7.7 billion.

A newly unveiled funding model compels institutions of higher learning to shift dependence from government capitation to raise additional resources to enhance the quality of their programmes to attract students.

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