Varsity reforms: University of Nairobi to scrap 40 courses

The University of Nairobi is scrapping more than 40 courses as the Ministry of Education reforms plan starts to bite.

A confidential document seen by the Sunday Standard reveals that some of the courses at the university had not attracted any students for the last five years.

The document – rationalisation of academic programmes – tabled in the University Senate further says some of the courses to be dropped were either duplicated or have since been replaced. The courses list is compiled from recommendations made by about 10 university’s faculties, schools, institutes or centres.

It is understood that the various faculties and schools will now have to defend why any of the courses must be retained in the university programmes list.

The courses cut across certificates, diploma, bachelors, masters and PhD. The most-affected courses are from agriculture, mathematics, population studies and research institute, nursing science, translation and interpretation, biological sciences, African women studies, arts, institute of anthropology, gender and African studies and physical sciences.

Quality and duplication

In recommending the scrapping of the courses, the University of Nairobi document makes reference to the requirement by the government on audit of academic programmes in universities to address quality and duplication.

“Consequently, the university has undertaken to rationalise programmes and review or revise curricula to comply with the Commission for University Education (CUE) standards and guidelines,” reads the document.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha gave universities two weeks to make tough decisions on staff and programmes rationalisation.

Prof Magoha also asked the public universities vice chancellors to recommend which of their universities and constituent colleges should be merged or shut down in the major reforms plan.

In the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Nairobi, the PhD in Agriculture will be dropped.

Three programmes in the School of Mathematics have also been listed for scrapping. These are BSc in Industrial Mathematics, PhD in Applied Statistics and PhD in Mathematics.

A total of nine courses will be scrapped at the School of Biological Sciences, including three courses under Open Distance and e-Learning (OdeL). These are BSc in Microbiology and Biotechnology, BSc in Biology, BSc in Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources Management.

Others are MSc in Agriculture Entomology, MSc in Medical and Veterinary Entomology, PhD in Applied Microbiology, PhD in Plant Ecology, PhD in Terrestrial Plant Ecology and PhD in Aquatic Plant Ecology. At the School of Physical Sciences, a total of 17 courses will be scrapped, including the Certificate in Chemistry.

BSc in Chemistry, Bachelor of Science, BSc in Environmental Geoscience (code 117 and 127), and Postgraduate Diploma in Environment and Natural Disaster Management will be scrapped.

Masters programmes

BSc in Microprocessor Technology and Instrumentation, BSc in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Bachelor of Science (atmospheric science) and PhD in Environmental Chemistry have also been listed.

Others are four masters programmes; Master of Science in Environmental and Analytical Chemistry, Master of Science in Pure Chemistry, Master of Science in Inorganic Chemistry and Master of Science in Organic Chemistry.

BSc in Environmental Chemistry (code 143 and code 143m3) have also been listed for scrapping.

In the Institute of Anthropology, Gender and African Studies, three postgraduate diploma courses will be scrapped. These are postgraduate Diploma in Cultural Studies, postgraduate Diploma in Heritage Management and postgraduate Diploma in Gender and Development Studies.

Seven courses in the Faculty of Arts will also be scrapped. Diploma in Water Resources Management, Diploma in Strategic and Security Studies, post graduate Diploma in Labour Relations, postgraduate Diploma in Armed Conflicts, postgraduate Diploma in Advance Disaster and postgraduate Diploma in Security Studies will be dropped.

The implication of scrapping of the courses will also likely affect staff who taught the programmes.

Among the CUE reform guidelines are how to trim the available staff and align academic programmes.

“It is still my strong belief that universities must consider right-sizing and down-sizing of staff to ensure proper staffing norms,” said Prof Magoha.

This may also means some of the facilities used to teach these courses may be rationalised.