Kebs pushes for university standards to be mandatory

NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenya Bureau of Standards(Kebs) has raised alarm over the slow uptake of the ISO 9001:2015 series of standards by universities despite heavy sensitisation.
The standards body has noted that many institutions are still struggling with ISO 9001:2008 despite a 2015 revision of the standard, adding that this was jeopardising the quality of university education.
"Only one institution has been accredited with ISO 9001:2015 and it is not a university," said Kebs Managing Director Charles Ongwae in a stakeholders forum with Commission for University Education (CUE).
Ongwae insisted that universities should pick the new standards especially those not certified at all in order to be in line with the November 2018 deadline that partly requires all university lecturers to at least have a doctorate degree.
"We know the standards are not mandatory but if I were CUE I would make them mandatory. Any standards produced by a national accredited body should be religiously upheld because they are not Kebs but national standards," Ongwae said.
CUE boss Prof David Some however argued that it is not easy to make institutions of higher learning take up the standards as no university wants to be bracketed.
"Standards are a prescribed format of doing things. Trying to confine an institution of higher learning is like limiting its growth to some extent," said Some.
The CUE boss said a data collection process is ongoing with partnership with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) on all 71 universities to streamline issues gender and representation of communities and people with disability.These are part of the stipulations of Kebs standards for institutions: "The last report was in 2012 and only one university had considered all these categories of minorities."
Kebs has three main standards for universities namely KS 2217-6:2011 on glossary and terms of university education, KS 2367:2012 on student accommodation off campus, and KS 2368 that deals with quality assurance in higher learning.
"Kenyans are said to be the best employees but these are people who went to school back in the 80s and 90s. We need to produce competitive graduants fit for the international market," noted Ongwae.
The two bodies (CUE and Kebs) plan on leveraging on the ongoing curriculum review by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to ensure standard are adhered to from onset.
"This may affect the current C plus entry to university but that bridge will be crossed when we get there," added CUE boss.