The Commission for University Education (CUE) has moved to stamp its authority on university programme regulation in a manner likely to set it against professional bodies that are also empowered by law to accredit such programmes.
In a paid up public advisory, CUE instructed all universities whose programme accreditation was disputed by professional bodies to make decisions that favour students.
CUE says it is the "sole regulator of university education in Kenya mandated to accredit and regulate university education as stipulated under the Universities Act, 2012".
Invoking powers bestowed in it by the Universities Act 2012, CUE Chief Executive Officer David Some said: "The commission advises the senates of the affected universities to exercise the powers vested in them in the best interests of the students."
This comes in the wake of a protracted dispute between universities, the Council of Legal Education and the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK), whose result has seen students' protests and protracted legal battles.
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The Council for Legal Education last week released a list of five institutions that it says have not been accredited to offer law degrees.
The council said Moi University, Catholic University of East Africa, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology and two campuses of University of Nairobi have not been accredited to offer the programme.
Only seven universities are fully accredited for law programmes; African Nazarene University School of Law, Kenyatta University School of Law, Kisii University School of Law and Riara University School of Law.
Others are Strathmore University School of Law, University of Nairobi School of Law (Parklands Campus) and Kabarak University.
Prof Some said the recent stalemate between universities and professional bodies over "purported rejection of accreditation of professional programmes, closure of faculties and campuses and denial of licensing to practice" has caused a gap in the law that must be addressed.
This means that universities whose programmes professional bodies claimed have not been accredited will continue teaching until the legal mess is sorted out.
"The requisite laws for the professional bodies with a mandate to accredit professional programmes should be reviewed to streamline institutional and programme accreditation. This dual system of accreditation requires urgent attention from all concerned parties. The commission is in consultation with relevant stakeholders to address this issue," he said.
He said the commission is committed to ensuring quality of university education for all degree programmes.
"It (CUE) is also committed to working harmoniously with professional bodies to uphold, maintain and secure quality education in Kenyan universities," he said.