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80pc PhD candidates unable to complete studies – varsity audit

Delays in students’ progression also featured prominently during the audit especially at the postgraduate level where some candidates took 9 to 14 years to graduate with PhDs/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – An audit by the Commission for University Education (CuE) has revealed that 20 percent of students who enrolled for undergraduate degree programmes between the year 2012 and 2016 failed to complete their courses for varied reasons.

The report released Thursday further indicates that 50 percent of those enrolled for Masters programmes failed to complete their studies as well, with less than 20 percent completing their PhD studies.

According to the audit conducted by 15 Quality Audit Inspection teams in 70 universities across the country, cases of accelerated graduation were reported in several universities with students taking 9 to 12 months to graduate from Bachelors programmes.

Delays in students’ progression also featured prominently during the audit especially at the postgraduate level where some candidates took 9 to 14 years to graduate with PhDs.

A number of universities were also found to be lacking Electronic Students Management Systems (ESMSs) for tracking and computation of student progression rates.

Failure to maintain research supervision reports has also been identified among gross violations by most institutions of higher learning.

Speaking during the presentation of the report to university councils’ heads and Vice Chancellors, CUE Chairperson Prof Chacha Nyaigotti said a joint quality-working group has been formed to work on areas of concern identified.

“Amicably we have agreed to move forward to ensure that the quality of university education in this country is enhanced,” Nyaigotti said at a media briefing after a meeting with university council chairs and Vice Chancellors in a meeting graced by the Education Cabinet Secretary.

The report recommends strict compliance with the admission requirements in line with university standards and guidelines as necessary steps are taken to rectify anomalies including cancellation of admissions or recalling of awards acquired irregularly.

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“We’ve agreed to form a joint quality assurance working group which will guide the way forward in terms of agreeing on the issues that we must continually interrogate as a country in relation to university education,” the CUE chief said.

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi gave an assurance to stakeholders on the continuous improvement of quality of education in universities saying the ministry will facilitate partnerships with all stakeholders to enhance the quality of education in universities.

“We have now built a strong partnership with all stakeholders to face challenges collectively and ensure that we consistently improve the quality of our education, strengthen our university sector so that we can maintain our leadership position in provision of university education in the region and globally,” he said.

Apart from student progression, the report highlights the abuse credit accumulation and transfer system,  universities senates approval and accreditation of academic programmes, integrity and certification of examinations as key impediments to quality university education.

Other challenges mentioned are; irregular awarding of academic, honorary and executive degrees, academic research and allocation of funds towards research initiatives.

The report recommends that all universities provide evidence of at least two per cent  of the operation expenditure for research by universities and provision of evidence of research and two papers published by PhD candidates as a requirement for graduation.

The quality assurance audit was conducted in 30 public chartered  universities, four public university colleges, 18 private chartered universities, five private university colleges and 13 private universities under Letter of Interim Authority (LIA).

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