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CUE trains guns on students who skip exams, miss classes

By Augustine Oduor | Published Sat, May 5th 2018 at 00:21, Updated May 5th 2018 at 00:23 GMT +3
A section of Kisii University graduates follow the 5th graduation ceremony held at the university ground on 15/12/2017

In summary

  • Regulator wants only qualified students to move to next class, warns lectures who frustrate progression
  • Proposals recommend strict requirements on university exams in bid to check higher education rot

University students who fail examinations or don’t complete assignments will not be allowed to progress to the next class.

These and other far reaching proposals are contained in a report by the Commission for University Education (CUE), which wants institutions of higher learning to ensure respective senates approve the lists of students who move to the next academic class.

“Develop a framework for ensuring that no student moves to a consecutive year of study until all requirements for a particular year of study are fully met,” reads the CUEreport presented to Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed.

The commission also wants universities to take stern action against lecturers or any academic staff who frustrate students’ progression to the next class.

Research projects

“Put mechanisms in place to ensure members of staff responsible for hindering student progression irregularly are held accountable,” reads the report.

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The details are part of the key proposals of the Joint Working Group on Quality Assurance put in place last year to recommend corrective/ preventive actions to check the rot in higher education.

The team established following the findings of the Quality Audit Inspection in February last year now wants all universities to establish an efficient and effective student management system to ensure progression is in accordance with Senate approval.

The 2017 CUE audit report revealed irregularities in students’ admissions requirements, integrity of examinations, dissertations and research projects.

Gaps were also noted in certification process, adherence to minimum standards on instructional hours and workload; staffing and appointment and promotion of academic staff.

Financial sustenance and compliance to requirements on academic programmes were also audited in an exercise that took place between January 23 and February 3, 2017.

The proposals on academic progression however means that cases of withholding grades by lecturers or missing marks that force many students to miss out from graduation lists will be eradicated.

Lecturers who demand sexual favours to score students favourably or those who demand monetary kickbacks to fast track research work for postgraduate programmes will be punished.

But it also means that students who miss classes, fail to satisfy the various departments by missing examinations, submitting poor academic work or breaking academic ethical rules will not progress.

Yesterday, Amina said her ministry wants all students to graduate in time.

“One of my key priorities in this docket is to ensure that all university courses take the required time to complete. We must bring to an end the era of perpetual studentship,” said Amina.

To remedy this situation, she said the ministry will roll out strategies to remove obstacles that delay students from graduating.

For a start, Amina directed all universities to adopt the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) Smart Card system with immediate effect.

She said the Smart Card, which is already in use at Kenya Methodist University and Maasai Mara and Pwani Universities will also help track students’ progression.

And once rolled out, the recommendations presented to Amina this week will see the commission review the standards and guidelines on supervision of post graduate programmes to allow supervision of a higher number of masters and PhD students.

Currently, CUE standards fix the number to a maximum of five for masters’ students and only three PhD students.

This means more students will be graduated as the system paves way for exit of those who have qualified to move to next level.

Urgent matters

And even as the students exit, the commission will enforce standards and guidelines on examinations, security features of certificates and on processes of issuance of certificates.

What will come as a shocker to many however is that CUEwill lock out some teaching staff from lecturer halls.

“All PhD holders admitted through executive masters’ degrees shall not be eligible to teach in universities in Kenya,” reads the report.

The report proposes that the Commission develops a repository of academic staff in universities.

Overall, the report proposes that the weighting and point system for publications should be reviewed and made consistent with international standards.

“This should be treated as a matter of urgency since the current system discourages collaborations and teamwork in research and publications,” reads the report.

In addition to these, Amina has been asked to recommend amendments to the Universities Act to explicitly address the gap on the award of degree certificates by universities operating under Letter of Interim Authority.

The report asks the ministry to gazette university charters and statutes that are still outstanding to enable affected institutions review them.

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