55,852 empty slots to hit varsities’ finances

Students in a lecture hall
Students in a lecture hall. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenyan universities have been left with 55,852 unfilled places after candidates who sat the national entrance exams last year were selected for degree courses.

Data from the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) shows that the 69 public and private institutions admitted 89,486 students against available space for 145,338.

Of the 660,204 candidates who sat the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination in 2018, 90,755 scored C+ — the minimum entry grade to university — and above.

Admission to public universities of nearly all students who scored C+ and above over the past three years has reduced the pool of learners available to private universities and parallel degree programmes in public universities.

This has hurt the universities' cash flow, forcing the institutions to shed jobs and freeze expansion plans.


“Following the successful completion of the placement process, 89,486 candidates have secured placement to degree courses of their choice in public and private Universities under the government sponsorship,” said Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha yesterday during the release of the 2019 universities and colleges placement results.

“1,269 candidates who scored C+ and above and qualified for placement to degree programmes opted for diploma courses in TVET institutions and have therefore been selected to the preferred programmes.”

The admissions data indicates that newly established public universities struggled for students as most candidates preferred established institutions.

Raf International University had only 46 admissions against a space of 140, while Pioneer International University filled only 268 of the 700 available slots.

The official data shows that the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) leads in the number of students selected at 5,901, representing 93.2 per cent of its 6,326 capacity for freshmen.

It is followed by Kenyatta University, with 5,432 freshmen against a declared capacity of 6,227.

The University of Nairobi took 192 of the 314 or 61 per cent of ‘A’ students that sat last year's KCSE exam. Medicine, dental science, law, quantity surveying, civil engineering and architecture were the most popular courses due to the relative attractiveness of their graduates in the job market.