The University of Nairobi has suspended ten common undergraduate courses from its list offered for sustainability.
The affected courses are Communication skills, Fundamentals of Development and their Applications, Human Health, Law in Society, Environment Science, Chemistry and its Applications.
Others are Science and Technology in Development, Elements of Philosophy, Elements of Economics and HIV/AIDS will not be offered at the University effective 2022/20223 academic year.
Vice Chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama said for the university to continue carrying out its mandate, it should make targeted strategic interventions that focus on people.
‘‘The senate recently deliberated on this matter and approved a series of targeted interventions that are aimed at making the university more relevant, vibrant and sustainable,’’ Kiama said.
He was speaking during the 67th Graduation where 85 PhD Degrees were conferred, Kiama added that this will improve developing common undergraduate courses that are aligned with national and global demands.
In 2021, some 250 units were scrapped in order to trim the courses.
Kiama noted that the university would strictly hire critical departments and trim more courses from the current 324 with more focus in engineering, medicine and IT.
‘‘We suspended new appointments unless in critical areas, we rationalised programmes offering to focus on our flood ship programmes. In the process, we have in the three years collected 8.2 billion and are still counting,’’ Kiama stated.
The Prof said reduction in wastage and leakages in its financial systems assisted in re-engineering financial processes.
He further said that even with all attempts to make relevancy, the university has sunk under running costs.
‘‘This financial gain continues to be eroded by unfinanced collective bargaining agreements that are signed between the employer and the unions as well as the underfunded Differentiated Unit Cost. The last CBA resulted in an increase of 1.6 billion on our payroll in the financial year 2022/2023,’’ he said.
In an internal memo from the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor DVC Academic Affairs Prof. Julius Okeng’o, dated September 19, 2022, the university said it arrived at the decision to ensure its sustainability.
‘‘By a copy of this memo, the Director of Information and Communication Technology, is required to withdraw them from the system all together,’’ read the statement.
Kiama urged the government to support the effort the university has undertaken and also provide the resources needed for the university to carry out its mandate for this country.
‘‘We launched the university of Nairobi foundation on June 30, 2022 as a special purpose vehicle for resourcing the university through mobilising of private capital and donations from philanthropists,’’ he said.
PS for University Education and Research, Amb. Simon Nabukwesi urged universities to teach courses that relevant to labour market.
‘‘We want to support sustainability and we wish that the universities improve and be even profoundly globally competitive with the best of the universities,’’ said Nabukwesi.
He encouraged universities to ensure financial sustainability, by seeking internal solutions.
‘‘Universities are globally in collaboration with international partners; these universities can attract lucrative research grants, to sustain the delivery in teaching and research,’’ he added.
Nabukwesi hailed UoN for taking the lead in coming up with internally driven solutions to deal with the challenges.
‘‘I am glad that UoN has taken the lead in using internal solutions towards financial sustainability. The new paradigm shift in higher education is not an option if we are to produce skilled graduates,’’ said Nabukwesi.
Prof Kiama said the university was faced with real danger of distinction and chose as a university to look for solutions.
‘‘We less found a burning house, we have somehow put off the fire, unfortunately, there are still dangerous ambers. We cannot afford to sit and rest. The fire may be back even with big features, we must remain alert,’’ said Prof Kiama.
Kiama said the university capitation was reduced; doctor’s allowances were enhanced in 2020/2021 without adequate funds to pay allowances moving forward.
Nabukwesi acknowledged the issue saying the government released the cash crunch universities are going through.
‘‘The government is cognisant of the resource challenges that the higher education sector has continued to experience. We have been in Mombasa with all vice-chancellors from public universities to brainstorm on this issue,’’ he said.
He promised that the ministry is ready to engage the new government and all stakeholders to dialogue and come up with sustainable solutions for universities.