Ministry holds crisis meeting over degree courses row

Top Ministry of Education officials yesterday held crisis meetings to resolve the controversy over unapproved courses in universities.

The Standard established that the Commission for University Education (CUE) - which approves all academic programmes – was at pains to explain why it rejected more than 130 programmes that has caused panic.

It is understood that CUE officials sought to explain the mess in a morning meeting, chaired by Higher Education Principal Secretary Collette Suda at Jogoo House.

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After the highly-charged meeting, commission chairperson Chacha Nyaigoti held a second crisis meeting at his office.

Proper document

A scheduled press conference called by CUE to clarify the fate of the courses was cancelled at the last minute, pointing at the magnitude of the crisis.

“We have had a board meeting and proceedings are still being prepared. I will engage you after confirming the resolutions,” said Prof Chacha at the commission's boardroom.

He said the proper document CUE intended to issue to the Press was not ready, prompting cancellation of the press briefing.

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“We will engage you in the course of time. Just be on standby. We have an unfinished business that we need to clarify formally and in a nutshell, this means our press conference as earlier planned is not taking place,” said Chacha.

Commission Chief Executive Officer Mwendwa Ntarangwi was present at the boardroom.

Sources at CUE, however, told The Standard that Prof Suda was upset with the manner universities have been set against students and parents through the media. It emerged that a communication lapse on the commission's side led to confusion and panic among students and universities.

Sources revealed that most of the unapproved programmes were courses inherited from mother universities by constituent colleges.

Finer details show that the mother colleges ought to have submitted minutes of Senate’s approval of transfer of the programmes to the constituent colleges. This did not happen in most of the cases, according to reports.

“There was a serious problem of slow regularisation of these programmes by Mother University and the constituent colleges. These were to be done to the satisfaction of the commission,” a senior CUE official said.

In some cases, the constituent colleges – which are still being nursed by the mother universities – declared capacities, which were rejected by the commission.

According to the CUE website, Tom Mboya University, which is a constituent college of Maseno University, has only three courses approved by the commission. The courses are Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Education (Science) and Bachelor of Science (Horticulture).

However, the university declared a total of 37 programmes, most of which are offered at Maseno University. Some 25 of these courses were rejected.

For instance, Bachelor of Arts (business studies, with IT), which was not approved at Tom Mboya, is offered at Maseno as Bachelor of Arts in Business Studies.

Another Tom Mboya course not approved, Bachelor of Arts (development studies, with IT) is offered at Maseno as Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies.

“The courses we offer belong to Maseno University but the media reports indicate that Maseno’s courses are genuine yet ours are fake. That information is wrong,” Tom Mboya University College Principal Charles Ochola said.

CUE Deputy Commission Secretary, Division of Quality Audit and Standards Anne Nangulu yesterday moved to allay fears over the courses.

“What is the crisis? The portal to revise courses has just been opened. And it shall again be opened for second revision. Let us wait for the exercise to end so that we tally and get the true position. There is no cause for alarm,” she said.

Chacha said the commission was not ready to divulge any information. “We are not ready yet as a commission to address this matter as it is unfolding right now. There is no reason to panic. We will engage you as we conclude with our information that we will like to share,” said Chacha.

Many vice chancellors opted to speak off the record because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Those who spoke to The Standard said universities were not happy with the manner their institutions' programmes were handled.

They said they will use the State of Universities Education meeting scheduled for Friday with MPs to ventilate.

Some even alleged that the CUE had used programmes to punish universities that had failed to remit annual audit and quality assurance fees. “If you go there and pay the dues some officers there will clear your programmes," said one of the VCs.

CUE rates gazzetted in June 30, 2016 require that public and private institutions pay a flat rate of Sh1, 000 per student they admit.

Accreditation charges

This means that universities must pay Sh1, 000 for every bachelor's, master's, postgraduate diploma and PhD programme that gets admitted in those institutions.

The previous rates required the institutions to pay Sh1, 500 per master's student admitted and Sh2, 000 per PhD student. Those admitting postgraduate diploma students used to pay Sh800 per student. Universities are also required to pay Sh320, 000 towards accreditation charges per academic programme.

Establishment charges for application for grant of letter of interim authority or for new constituent college were set at Sh405, 000.

An application charge for award of charter is Sh480, 000. Quality audit charges were pegged at Sh900, 000 for institutional audit. Academic programme audit Sh320, 000 and campus accreditation Sh150, 000. Universities also pay Sh405, 000 towards application for authority to collaborate per degree programme, this applies to collaboration between local institutions.

Education MinistryCommission for University Educationfake degree courses