Alarm as students shun varsity courses considered significant

Some of these courses attracted fewer students despite being considered among the academic programmes critical for national development.

Details seen by The Standard show that only one student was placed by Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement (KUCCPS) to Bachelor of Science course.

This includes studies in Food Security, Horticulture, Soil Science, Forestry, Dryland Agriculture, Biological Sciences, Geophysics and Mineralogy, Aquaculture and Fisheries Technology, and Environmental Chemistry.

Other courses that got only one student placed nationally are Entrepreneurship and small business management, Bachelor of Science Networks and Communication Systems, Bachelor of Industrial Technology, Water Resource and Environmental Management, Environmental Resource Management, Library and Knowledge Management, and Bachelor of Arts Chaplaincy.

In 2021, the government released a list of core courses that were ranked priority areas, based on the Big 4 Agenda and the broader Vision 2030.

Medicine (pre-clinical and clinical), dentistry (pre-clinical and clinical), veterinary medicine (pre-clinical and clinical) and pharmacy (preclinical and clinical) were ranked top.

Architectural Studies (Architecture Part 1 and Professional Part II) and Engineering (Surveying) have also been listed among the courses that will be funded.

Also listed were the Built Environment and Design courses- Construction, Real Estate, Urban and Regional Planning, Landscape Architecture, Design and Computing.

Agriculture, Health Sciences, Food Sciences, Natural Resource Management and the Natural Environment, Agriculture, Food Science and Technology also ranked top.

Medical Laboratory Science and Technology, Animal Science, Nursing, Clinical Medicine (BSC.), Radiography, Agribusiness Management and Sport Science also national priority areas.

Others were Food and Nutrition, Medical Psychology, Physical therapy, Public Health, Environmental Health, Community Health and Development, Wildlife Science and Management and Agribusiness Management.

However, KUCCPS data analysed by The Standard shows that some of these critical courses have been shunned by students.

Nearly half of the students who scored A will join the University of Nairobi. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

Bachelor of Science in Climate Change and sustainable development will admit only seven students; compromising the fight against climate change that has now emerged as a global threat.

Also dealing a blow to the campaign on blue economy is the admission of only eight students to pursue the Bachelor of Science Fisheries and Aquaculture programme.

The plan to mainstream chaplaincy and guidance and counselling in schools could face an uphill task as the number of students admitted to courses related to these areas is significantly low.

For Bachelor of Arts in counselling, only five students have been selected for the programme; while in theology only seven students will pursue the programme.

Bachelor of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management - also got one student placed nationally, despite government push to promote small and medium enterprises.

The push to open up the manufacturing industry also suffered a blow with only 16 students enrolled for Bachelor of Engineering (Manufacturing, Industrial and Textile Engineering).

Other programmes that suffered dismal enrolment are Bachelor of Science Zoology (2), Geology (7), Instrumentation and Control Engineering (7), BA Leadership and management (5), BA in Bibilical Studies (3) and BA Sociology and Technology (4).

Data however also shows that education, commerce and Computer Science were the most preferred courses among those who scored C+ and above.

Bachelor of Education scooped the lion's share in this year's university placement exercise with nearly 30,000 students.

Some 20,151 students will study a Bachelor of Education (Arts) while another 9,431 will study a Bachelor of Education (Science) making it the most sought-after degree program.

Bachelor of Arts will admit 5,567 students, Bachelor of Commerce 4,367, while Computer Science will have 2,912 students.

Others include Bachelor of Science Agricultural Education and Extension that got 1,657 students, Human Resource Management with 1,638, Bachelor of Science IT with 1,459 as Criminology and Security Studies got 1395. Bachelor of Law got 1,200 students and Political science and public administration 1,081.

With this revelation, university managers and policy-makers must go back to the drawing board and chart the way forward on courses.

This is because with the new funding model that focuses on the student, universities face a bleak future.

The new model launched by President William Ruto in May is described as student-centred and provides funds to universities based on the student level of need and the course they are pursuing.

This means that universities could have a hard time sustaining courses with few admissions.