Big win for lecturers as court nullifies PHD requirement

You do not need to have a doctorate degree to lecture in Kenyan universities, a labour court has ruled.

While nullifying regulations by the Commission for University Education limiting university teaching to only those who have a PhD, Justice Stephen Radido faulted the university regulator for ignoring public participation.

While dismissing CUE’s argument that university vice chancellors and college principals had represented lecturers in consultative forums, the judge found that university heads do not represent the interest of lecturers, hence could not be their voice.

He decreed that lecturers, being the primary stakeholders, ought to have been given an opportunity to voice their views before the commission came up with the regulations.

The case filed by lecturers union, Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu), against Machakos University and CUE.

According to the union, the directive had a ripple effect on university teaching as majority of the institutions relied on assistant lecturers to meet the demand for higher education.

Uasu complained that the regulations were secretly hatched despite the same affecting thousands of lecturers.

According to Uasu lawyer Titus Koceyo, the position of an assistant lecturer, which had been scrapped under the new regime, was recognised in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between lecturers and their employers, hence, could not be struck off without going back to the negotiation table.

Null and void

"I declare the harmonised criteria and guidelines for appointment and promotion of academic staff in Universities in Kenya to be null and void,” the judge ruled.

The nullified regulations spelt out academic achievements that a lecturer ought to have achieved, including attaining a PhD and publishing scholarly articles before he or she is allowed to lecture.

The higher education regulator had in 2014 given local universities a five-year grace period to implement the rule. As at last year, a majority of lecturers had not registered for doctorate degrees, while others who had applied had not found supervisors or were held up at the proposal stages.

It emerged that there are about 9,320 academic staff across private universities alone. Statistics showed there are 636 professors, 756 associate professors, 1,451 senior lecturers, 3,422 lecturers and some 3,055 assistant lecturers.