Panic hits universities as scramble for students who scored minimum entry grade

Acting Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i presents a scholarship letter to the beneficiary of Wings Fly, Amina Mangiri, during the launch of the scholarship programme at Kenyatta University on 4th January 2018. [PHOTO BY: Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Panic has hit universities as scramble for the 70,000 students who scored the minimum entry grade of C+ starts next week.

The universities and colleges placement board will sit on Wednesday next week to review the available slots against the reduced number of qualified students.

The Ministry of Education has instructed the respective regulators to slash the institutions declared slots to sustainable numbers.

Commission for University Education (CUE) and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (Tveta) are currently analysing the vacancy data released by various institutions ahead of the placement board meeting.

Sources at the Ministry of Education revealed that universities and colleges will only be allocated degree and diploma students to programmes sustainable by the institutions based on their available resources.

This means some universities programmes will receive few students while others will have some courses dropped after the audit. 

Data from the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) shows that last year, the 35 public universities declared 72,251 spaces and absorbed 74,000 after some slots adjustments.

Private universities declared a total capacity of 27,192 but were only allocated some 15,000 students. 

Overall, the available slot for universities admission in both public and private institutions is about 90,000.

This means the universities will from next week scramble for the limited number of qualified students, with institutions with competitive programmes, improved facilities and better learning environment set to attract more numbers.

Older institutions

The KUCCPS board will ratify the process of students’ allocations and set the date for official selection of courses.

Most universities and colleges administrators are worried that they may not competitively attract enough students during the first selection.

With only 70,000 candidates scoring C+ and above in the 2017 KCSE against the total available capacity of 90,000, it emerged that some universities’ programmes will be discontinued for lack of students.

Saturday Standard has reliably learnt that the first selection process is expected to begin after next week’s board meeting. The admission trends for the past three years reveals that most students prefer to study in the traditional older institutions.

The University of Nairobi (UoN), Moi University, Kenyatta University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) attract and admit the largest number of students even as the newer institutions expand and declared higher capacities.

An analysis of the 2017 universities admissions data shows that UoN admitted the highest number at 5,955. Kenyatta took in some 5,741, followed by Moi (5,190), JKUAT (4,994) and Egerton (3,621) students.

All the 141 students who scored grade A in the 2016 KCSE were admitted in only four of the country’s top public universities -- UoN, JKUAT, JKUAT, Kenyatta and Moi. 

UoN took in 102 students while JKUAT admitted 23. Kenyatta and Moi admitted seven students each. Vice Chancellors of public universities who spoke to Saturday Standard said there is a general panic among them, with some saying that many institutions may shut if the trend persists.

“From the outside it looks fine but deep inside the institutions it is a crisis. With no students left for parallel programmes and available courses getting fewer students, this is not funny,” said a Vice Chancellor of a top public university.

Next week’s meeting comes amid debate on whether students who scored mean grade C and posted strong performance in four key subjects should be considered for university placement.

Details of the students’ preferences during last year’s placement show that some universities attracted as few as 16 students during first selection.

Kibabii University, for instance, which declared a capacity of 1,275 places in 19 programmes, only attracted 750 students during first selection.

Maasai Mara University, which declared a total capacity of 2,686 in 59 programmes, only attracted 1,714 during first selection.

Cooperative University of Kenya, which declared a capacity of 812 on eight programs, only attracted half the number during first selection.

Preferred courses

Medicine, pharmacy, engineering, architecture and economics remained the most preferred courses by the best performing candidates.

This means that the other programmes will suffer an acute deficit if this trend persists.

Interestingly, the top five universities preferred by students are the only ones that do well in international rankings. UoN, Moi, Egerton and JKUAT have once again been ranked best in Kenya this year according to the Webometrics transparent ranking report.

Internationally, universities are ranked on five broad parameters–teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income.

Overall, only the UoN enjoys international ranking in the prestigious Times Higher Education. It was recently ranked position 201, appearing among the world’s top 300 institutions.