Panic has hit the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) as reports emerged of low enrollment numbers ahead of the September intake.
Sources at the KMTC revealed that about 80 per cent of the declared slots have been taken up, with some programmes having low number of applications.
The college management has now launched a recruitment drive, two years after the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) pulled out of the admission process.
Principals of the 65 colleges have been advised to lobby students and parents to sell the available slots to qualified candidates.
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A letter dated June 25 and signed by Nancy Michire, the KMTC deputy director of academics, paints a picture of a worried institution with only a few months to the intake.
In her letter, Ms Michire says the admissions office presented to the academic board a status report on “decrease in applicants for various courses” during an internal meeting held between June 20 and 22.
“In view of this, you are requested to hold meetings with your heads of departments and ask them to meet students in their departments and ask them to communicate to their relatives, friends and the youth in the community who qualify for any courses advertised for September 2018,” reads Michire’s letter in part.
The chain of request lays bare the poor state of applications in an institution that the deputy director says has never admitted below 100 per cent.
“We have always filled our capacities. But by July, only 80 per cent had applied and we got worried,” said Michire.
In an interview with Schools and Colleges, she attributed the declining numbers to the decision to move applications to online system. “We realised that online applications is a challenge and we have been asking people to advise qualified students to move to the nearest college to be assisted,” she said.
The letter, to all college principals reads: “As you do this, please encourage them to visit the nearest campus to be assisted in online applications.”
There are 65 KMTC institutions in Kenya, with three more being equipped to enroll students. Collectively, the colleges have a capacity of 8,000. The college has been expanding access with students’ capacity rising from 4,860 in 2015/16.
Defending the low numbers, KMTC board chairman Phillip Kaloki attributed them to market dynamics. “Universities have lowered admission requirements for these level of training. And we also have many layers who have come in to share the existing students,” said Kaloki.
He said many faith-based institutions, other private training institutions, universities and hospitals also take in students, eating into the thin numbers.
“As things stand now, we have just called for applications. And everyone is receiving applications. By October, we will see the true enrollment picture,” said Kaloki.
KMTC won a protracted fight with KUCCPS over whose mandate it is to recruit students to the colleges. KUCCPS has always maintained the key role of the agency is to coordinate placement of all Government-sponsored students, including those at KMTC.
Admissions to KMTC have been a big bone of contention with the matter subjected to protracted court battles and also presented to Parliament as KUCCPS fought to retain placement mandate.
Proceed with admissions
In one of the meetings during parliamentary sittings of the Health Committee, then chaired by Rachael Nyamai, MPs termed the situation at the KMTC as ‘a crisis’ that must be addressed urgently.
In her submissions, Nyamai said in 2015 that KMTC is a parastatal under the Ministry of Health and told KUCCPS not to interfere with its admissions process.
“If there are is a crisis, it should be handled by the minister concerned. KMTC should proceed with admissions,” she said.
The same year, KMTC board pulled out from the national joint admissions body. The then KMTC Director Olango Onudi said the institution will continue with their own admissions procedures.
“I wish to inform you that KMTC Board of Management position on this matter is that selection of students to the programmes offered by KMTC is the mandate of the college academic board as stipulated in KMTC Act…,” reads the letter sent to KUCCPS CEO John Muraguri.
The board then said KMTC is not obligated to send any details regarding available vacancies to the KUCCPS for subsequent placements.
Muraguri had asked KMTC to submit college capacities for the 2015/16 programmes.
“Kindly submit the same urgently so that KUCCPS can move to the next stage of processing 2015/16 placement. In the event that we do not receive the same by March 27, 2015 we will retain the capacities submitted during the 2014/15 placement,” reads the letter dated March 23, 2015 and signed by Muraguri.
But Onudi fired back, saying they will undertake their own admissions. “…we are therefore not in a position to furnish you with the information required,” KMTC board said in the letter dated March 24, 2015, signed by Onudi.
That marked the last time KUCCPS placed KMTC students.