By SAM OTIENO
Graduates with business, economics, medical, engineering and information technology degrees are in heavy demand, a new study reveals.
Least preferred degrees by employers include those related to professions in the hospitality industry as well as creative and performance arts, such as music, theatre, and arts.
The study by a leading scholar, Andrew Rasugu, found that the demand of some courses exceed training opportunities.
Data from the Joint Admission Board indicate that there is excess demand in some universities and excess capacity for all academic programmes in others.
The study, Demand for Regular Academic Programmes Offered in Public Universities and Their Relevance to the Labour Market, was conducted in seven public universities. "Despite their relevance to emerging social issues, it is interesting that degrees in disaster management, criminology, and architectural and surveying are in less demand in the labour market," says Rasugu.
The research shows that although courses such as agriculture, criminology, disaster management, literature, poetry, and ethical education, and natural sciences are relevant to sustainable development, they are unattractive to students.
It recommends that the courses be promoted to ensure holistic training at universities.
According to the research, courses such as architecture and survey are offered at the University of Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat), Maseno and Moi universities.
Whereas there is excess demand for the courses at the UoN and Jkuat, there is excess capacity at Maseno and Moi universities.
Like agricultural courses, interest in architectural and surveying programmes is low. The study found that these programmes are offered in all public universities except Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST).
This means there is excess capacity in all the universities where they are offered.
This implies that these courses are not popular among university applicants. "The few students admitted into the academic programmes may be explained by the fact that agriculture is an optional course in secondary schools and more importantly there is limited demand in the labour market,’’ states the report.
Design, anthropology, fine arts, sociology, cultural studies, geography, history and philosophy are also offered in all public universities except MMUST and Jkuat.
The study found that excess capacity exists at the UoN, and Kenyatta, Maseno and Egerton universities. This may partly be explained by the fact that the institutions concentrate on sciences.
According to the study by Rasugu, who is also an associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (Ipar), applicants to public universities are influenced by the dynamics in marketplace when selecting programmes.
But another study is recommended to confirmation through empirical evidence.