Hundreds of PhDs look set to be recalled after the university education regulator started fresh vetting of the degrees awarded by public universities in recent years.
The Commission for University Education (CUE) says the audit will review the PhDs amid concerns that the institutions are not following the right assessment procedure.
The probe will focus on whether the students followed the set rules, including the one that caps professors from supervising more than three PhD candidates at a time.
It will also focus on the publications or refereed journals where the graduates published their works. Some journals have had their credibility questioned while some students have been accused of delegating the research work. A refereed journal contains scholarly articles that have been reviewed for their quality by recognised academics or experts in the field.
“We have already started with the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, but we are not just limited to one university. We will evaluate the others to see if there are concerns there,” CUE chief executive Mwenda Ntarangwi said.
The probe could lead to the recall of some doctorate degrees at a time when an increasing number of Kenyans are pursing postgraduate qualifications for career growth in the competitive job market.
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data shows that student enrolment on Master's and PhD programmes in public universities stood at 67,407 in the year to June 2017, up from 16,153 in a similar period in 2012—reflecting a 317 per cent growth.
The University of Nairobi had the highest enrolment in the 2016-17 period at 16,639 followed by Kenyatta University with 11, 927. Moi University had 2,878 students studying for PhDs and Master's degrees.
The probe started after Kenyans questioned 118 PhDs awarded by JKUAT during its graduation ceremony last month.
It emerged that one JKUAT professor had supervised more than 10 PhD students in the School of Entrepreneurship, Procurement and Management against the CUE requirement of three students per lecturer.