Universities prepare to kick out 32,000 overstayed students

University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Prof. Stephen Gitahi Kiama.

Crackdown to weed out learners who have overstayed in public universities has kicked off, with the University of Nairobi taking the lead in the exercise that targets 32,000 students.

Deregistration and termination of courses for learners who have overstayed in the institution beyond the required time will start today. “This is to inform all students and staff that pursuant to Section 2.7.2 of the guidelines, the university shall commence the process of deregistration of various categories of students on March 22,” reads the memo.

The details are contained in a March 8 memo by Julius Ogeng’o, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs. To enforce the directive, the UoN Vice-Chancellor Stephen Kiama transferred all student affairs matters to the DVC in charge of Academic Affairs. “The management has taken note of the fact that the functions of Students Affairs continued to run efficiently under the office of DVC (Academic Affairs), who is also the custodian of the student's records,” said Prof Kiama in a March 3 memo to staff.

Kiama said the filling of the position of DVC (Students Affairs) had therefore been deferred indefinitely.

“This is therefore to notify the entire university community and relevant stakeholders of the above decision and at the same time request all to continue referring any students’ affairs-related matters to the office of the DVC (Academic Affairs) until otherwise advised,” he said.

In his memo, Prof Ogeng’o said the start of deregistration of students and termination of courses starts on March 22.

Prof Kiama said UoN would scrutinise students’ roll and use details to make informed decisions. The VC said development of the Students’ Progression and Deregistration guidelines was part of the larger reforms the university was instituting to enhance accountability and transparency.

“I know we are the first to develop the guidelines and the process shall be fair to all because each student will be dealt with on their own merit,” said Kiama.

UoN becomes the first university to start the purge after the Universities Fund raised the red flag on the high number of this category of learners. The Universities Fund mandated to develop transparent and fair criteria for allocation of funds to universities, blocked plans to spend Sh5.5 billion to sponsor some 32,000 learners who had overstayed.

The Fund’s chief executive Geoffrey Monari said some of the students had repeated courses for semesters while others requested to defer for various reasons, but could not justify their cases to warrant funding.

Also in this category are learners with disciplinary cases and those who over the years have beaten systems to overstay. Public universities’ vice-chancellors now plan to institute internal systems to clean up their students’ rolls.

At the University of Nairobi, Prof Ogeng’o said the decision to eject students who had overstayed was arrived at during a Senate meeting on August 26, 2020, to approve the Guidelines on Students Progression.

“This targets those who have overstayed, that is, whose studentship has expired, those whose studentship has been terminated by expulsion or discontinuation in accordance with the respective rules and regulations,” said Prof Ogeng’o.

Also targeted are students with unexplained failure to transit to the subsequent level and those who interrupted their studentship by temporary withdrawal, deferment, or suspension, said Prof Ogeng’o. Section 2.7 of the University of Nairobi guidelines provides for termination of students’ progression and deregistration by expulsion or discontinuation.