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Is Kiriri University on the brink of collapse?

BUSINESS
By | October 14th 2009

SAM OTIENO and JAMES RATEMO

Are you planning to join a private university? If your answer is yes, then do your research before you end up wasting your money in an institution that is on the brink of collapse.

Investigations by ‘Education’ reveal that the Commission for Higher Education (CHE) is considering closing some private universities that have stagnated since they were awarded Letters of Interim Administration.

Among them is Kiriri Women’s University of Science and Technology, which is facing closure for failing to meet its commitments and conform to standards set by the commission.

The university, which was granted a Letter of Interim Authority in 2002, has grossly inadequate learning facilities.

Vice Chancellor resigned

We have reliably learnt that the Vice-Chancellor Monica Naliaka Mweseli has resigned citing poor management and is scheduled to leave office next month. According to CHE, the women’s only university is experiencing financial difficulty that is preventing it from expanding as provided for in the strategy document it submitted when it applied for accreditation.

Keriri Woman’s University of Science and Technology, situated in Kahawa, Nairobi, has only two blocks that resemble residential houses, which serve 300 students.

The Letter of Interim Administration authorises the university to set up a governing body, commence or continue the development of physical facilities, continue to assemble academic resources and admit students to academic programmes.

"Seven years after the letter was issued no development has taken place," says a member of the CHE technical committee that conducted an evaluation and inspection of the university.

"If you want to know what we are talking about, just visit the institution and compare it with others," he says.

A visit by ‘Education’ to the university established that it has flouted key provisions of the Establishment of Universities Rules 1989.

The university in Kahawa, Nairobi, has only two blocks that resemble residential houses, which serve 300 students. The low number of students hinders its ability to raise enough income to run and maintain a high calibre teaching staff.

The founder and Chancellor Paul Ndarua confirms that CHE had raised certain issues with the university but declined to give details.

"What I can tell you is that we have responded to them and more details can be obtained from the commission," Dr Ndarua says.

Though the institution offers science degrees, its facilities are not up to university standards. Courses include BSc in mathematics (actuarial, pure, statistics), computer science and business administration. It also offers diplomas and certificates courses.

"There is no adequate library or computer laboratory, a situation that is compromising the quality of teaching," says the CHE official.

CHE Chief Executive Officer Everret Standa confirms that the commission is investigating the institution but failed to divulge more details.

Timetable of steps

"Yes we are investigating the university but we are not allowed to discuss operations of institutions," says Prof Standa.

When the letter of authority was issued, the university submitted a timetable of the steps it would take in the next three years to realise its objectives.

In a separate interview, Standa called on all local private and public universities to maintain high standards as per their charters and letters of interim authority.

He says universities flouting standards and risk closure. "We are investigating some universities and we will act if they do not reform," he says but declines to name the affected institutions only saying those involved are operating under letters of interim authority. He cautioned parents and students to check with the commission before enrolling in private universities and colleges lest they waste money on bogus diplomas and degrees. "Some universities will not be allow to operate unless they improve on quality," says Standa.

The commission accredits programmes in private universities and colleges.

New universities first receive letter of interim authority and over time they are awarded a charter.

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