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Private universities are increasingly finding themselves hard pressed to innovate

By Macharia Kamau | Published Sun, January 14th 2018 at 00:00, Updated January 13th 2018 at 19:24 GMT +3
Simon Gicharu, chairman of Mt Kenya University

Private universities are increasingly finding themselves hard pressed to innovate as the number of students dwindle following reforms in the education system that have threatened the core revenue streams for the institutions.

The reforms, which have seen students who qualify get slots in both public and private universities as well as Government sponsorship, have also affected self-sponsored programmes in the Government-run universities.

The programmes have been a key revenue source for public universities that have in the past decried low funding by the Government.

Following the reforms that started when Fred Matiang’i became Education minister, the number of students that qualify to join universities having scored grade C+ and above halved.

In 2016, there were 88,900 students that scored C+ and above while last year, the number reduced to 70,073. This is in comparison to 169,492 that had qualified to join universities in 2015.

All the students scoring above the university entry cut-off mark earned a slot in public universities. Private universities were left to admit students who turned down the admission in public institutions or those looking for diploma and certificate courses.


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Simon Gicharu, chairman of Mt Kenya University, says private universities have been compelled to re-look their models to keep attracting students, which has resulted in increased investments to enhance courses that they have been offering.

“It is not business as usual for universities and you will notice that many privately-run institutions are aggressively marketing themselves, which was not the case in the past,” he said.

“With the number of people qualifying for university dwindling, we are looking at enhancing our degree programmes as well as improving on diploma and certificate courses to be able to attract students.”

Dr Gicharu said the university has been pumping money in equipping facilities at its different campuses to enhance its courses.

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