Board rejects 47 degree courses
By Wachira Kigotho
The Engineering Registration Board (ERB) has rejected to accord accreditation status to 47 ongoing and planned engineering degrees in local public and private universities. The degrees were submitted for accreditation late last year.
According to ERB’s Report on Accreditation of the Engineering Degree Programmes, degrees were rejected because of their low quality curriculum, lack of qualified lecturers, segmentation, and duplication of the programmes and absence of professional focus.
The report, produced last year, accuses universities of enhancing mediocrity by developing sub-standard degrees which amounted to cheating the public that they were offering engineering degrees, while the menu consisted of technician based courses.
Kenyatta University had its eight engineering degrees in energy, manufacturing, water, construction, civil, mechanical, computer and electrical and communication rejected on the basis of lack of lecturers, inadequate laboratories and segmentation of degrees. By the time the university was seeking accreditation for Bachelor of Science in Electronic and Telecommunications Engineering and Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering, the programmes had only two members of staff and none was a registered engineer.
"If the university wants to mount courses in those disciplines, then it should recruit academics in control, engineering, power systems and machines, telecommunications and microwaves, electronics and microprocessors," says the report.
On the university’s Bachelor of Energy Engineering, ERB points out that energy is basically an application course and relies on other courses in mechanical and electrical engineering. "An undergraduate course should therefore concentrate on the disciplines on which energy management is based rather than focus on energy alone," says the report.
Egerton University had also its eight degrees in various fields of engineering and technology rejected for various reasons that ranged from lack of qualified staff, weak curriculum as some units lacked depth of coverage, segmentation and duplication.
The issue is serious in that while Egerton proposed to offer BSc in Electrical and Control Engineering, BSc in Telecommunications and BTech in Electrical Engineering, BSc Instrumentation and Control Engineering, the university had only seven lecturers and none was registered as an engineer. "How can only seven staff members run four degree programmes without compromise in quality?" ERB queries.
A review of specialisation of engineering staff at Egerton showed only two lecturers had a specialisation manufacturing engineering. "The staff proposed are either specialised in mechanical or agricultural engineering, as well as B.Ed and their numbers are not adequate," says the report.
However, it is not only Egerton that is using B.Ed degree holders to produce engineers. According to the report, the most senior member of staff at the Department of Telecommunication Engineering at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has basic degrees in education and physics. "He lacks the required background to offer academic leadership in an engineering environment," says ERB.
According to the report, the coordinator of the BSc Telecommunication at JKUAT is also not a registered engineer or a corporate member of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya. The university was also faulted for providing an outdated list of its staff, many of which had left the university. Besides, the university failed to indicate universities attended by its staff as required by ERB regulations.
Whereas, JKUAT had proposed to conduct a degree programme in mining and processing engineering, the university had nobody qualified in mining. ERB recommended that before the university could launch the programme there should be evidence of staff with responsibility and authority to define academic standards. ERB is worried that while universities mounted degrees in environmental engineering and submitted their degrees for accreditation, the content is deemed to be very low. Curriculum developed in those areas have failed to show that graduates will have adequate mathematical proficiency through study of differential equations, probability and statistics, calculus-based physics, advanced chemistry and earth sciences. The programmes also lacked grounding in geology, meteorology, aquatic biology, toxicology and fluid mechanics among other relevant units.
However, serious academic anomalies were also noted at Muliro University of Science and Technology where engineering courses are being conducted by professionals from other disciplines. Some core units are also being taught by technicians.
For instance, a course named highway Materials and Pavement Design is being taught by a technician, while Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering Materials is being taught by a geologist while Highway Geometric Design is being taught by a surveyor. Last year, the university had also engaged a part-time graduate in home economics to teach Public Health Engineering in the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering.
The issue of local universities offering inferior engineering education is not just contrary to ERB’s regulations but also against Washington Accord, a global agreement that specifies recognition and international equivalence of engineering qualifications. According to Dr Win Phillips, the chairperson of the International Engineering Alliance, it is not prudent for universities and other degree awarding colleges of engineering to segment professional disciplines. This means graduates of segmented or sub-standard degrees cannot be registered by affiliates of the Washington Accord that comprise national registration bodies such as the ERB and other similar signatories.
Notably the price is high for students who join unaccredited programmes in universities, not just in Kenya but also in other countries. This means such graduates cannot develop successful careers in engineering since they cannot practice as professional cadres. According to Engineers Registration Act Cap 530 only registered engineers that are authorised to practice and offer engineering professional services in the country.
As ERB has pointed out, it is apparent that most universities in the country are pursuing the path to make technician courses to be degree programmes. But it is necessary to draw a bold line to establish the difference between technicians and engineers.
Summary of undergraduate engineering programmes not approved by the engineering registration board:
University of Nairobi
1. Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Biosystems Engineering
1. Bachelor of Engineering in Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering
2. Bachelor of Engineering in Manufacturing, Industrial and Textile Engineering
3. Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Engineering
4. Bachelor of Science in Electrical Apparatus and Systems
5. Bachelor of Engineering in Telecommunication Engineering
1. Bachelor of Science in Energy Engineering
2. Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Engineering
3. Bachelor of Water Engineering
4. Bachelor of construction Engineering
5. Bachelor of Science in Civil and Water Engineering
6. Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Telecommunication Engineering
7. Bachelor of Mechanical and Energy Engineering
8. Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
1. Bachelor of Science in Telecommunication and Information Engineering
2. Bachelor of Science in Electronic and Computer Engineering
3. Bachelor of Science in Materials and Metallurgical Engineering
4. Bachelor of Science in Biomechanical and Processing Engineering
5. Bachelor of Science in Soil, Water and Environmental Engineering
6. Bachelor of Science in Mining and Mineral Engineering
1. Bachelor of Science in Instrumentation and Control Engineering
2. Bachelor of Science in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
3. Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering
4. Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering
5. Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering
6. Bachelor of Technology in Industrial Technology
7. Bachelor of Science in Water and Environmental Engineering
8. Bachelor of Science in Telecommunication Engineering
9. Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Control Engineering
Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology
1. Bachelor of Technology in Production Technology
2. Bachelor of Technology in Electrical and communication Engineering
3. Bachelor of Technology in Civil and Structural Engineering
Kenya Methodist University
1. Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering
University of Eastern Africa, Baraton
1. Bachelor of technology in Automotive Engineering
1. Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering
Mombasa Polytechnic University College
1. Bachelor of Engineering in Building and Civil Engineering
2. Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering
3. Bachelor of Engineering in Telecommunication and Information Engineering
4. Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical and electronics Engineering
5. Bachelor of Engineering in Instrumentation and Automation Engineering
Kenya Polytechnic University College
1. Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical and Electronics Engineering
2. Bachelor of Technology in Electrical and Electronics Engineering
Kimathi University College of Technology
1. Bachelor of Science in Telecommunication and Information Engineering
2. Bachelor of Science in Mechatronic Engineering
3. Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronics Engineering
4. Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
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