Anxiety over varsity admissions programmes revision delays

Teachers, parents and students of Chebuyusi High School carry top students as they celebrate KCSE results after the school scored a mean grade of 8.9, the best in Navakholo sub-county in Kakamega. [Duncan Ocholla, Standard]

Panic has hit the government over the admission of 90,000 students who scored grade C+ and above in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) as reports emerged that the huge number would have serious budget implications.

The revelations emerged as anxiety mounted over delayed call by Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) to students to revise course choices.

Sources at the Ministry of Education revealed that the government is facing an uphill task over admission of all qualified students, which has gone up compared to previous years.

All students who scored C+ and above in the last two years were placed in universities under government sponsorship. And this year, the government is staring at a possible budget crisis as 20,000 additional students qualified for university admission.

Last year, only 68,545 were admitted to the universities. Diploma colleges took in 57,488 with some 32,521 admitted to crafts and another 4,898 enrolled in artisan programmes.

It emerged that the government may factor in additional Sh2 billion to admit the expanded number of students.

Well placed sources at the Ministry of Education revealed that high-level consultations are underway with various options being weighed; among them whether a new cut off point should be set.

Also being discussed is possibility of discontinuing the directive of President Uhuru Kenyatta to place government-sponsored students to private universities.

Issuing the directive in 2016, President Uhuru said the move would provide a chance for more students to pursue courses of their choice.

Uhuru ordered KUCCPS to place some 10,000 students in private universities under government sponsorship.

Major setback

Private universities admitted 12,656 students last year. A reverse of the directive means that about 4,000 students who transfer programmes across public and private universities under the Uhuru directive will not have the chance, setting a major setback on the presidents dream.

Last year alone, some 3,720 transfers were registered, among them students leaving public universities and enrolling in private universities under same funding regime.

Details from Universities Funding Board (UFB) shows that competitiveness of programmes in private universities, strikes in public universities, missing marks menace in public institutions and advanced facilities in private universities prompted the mass transfers.

If government stops placement to private universities, students could miss out on the benefits recorded for the first time through students enhanced options.

School and College yesterday established that anxiety is building among students, with the delay to call for courses revision causing unease in the higher education sector.

A trend analysis of KUCCPS timelines for courses revision reveals that the agency is several days behind schedule, raising questions about the process.

A quick review of the timelines reveals that since 2016, KUCCPS has progressively moved the revision process earlier to the release of the examinations results.

In 2016, the portal was opened for first revision on April 11 and closed April 30. In 2017, the portal for first revision was opened on January 30 and closed on February 17.

And last year, the portal was opened on January 24 and closed on February 14.

University Vice Chancellors who spoke to School and College said the institutions expected the portal to open earlier this year, given the steady trend over the last three years.

The development came as details of the most preferred courses by students emerged.

Analysis of the placement data reveals that Bachelor of Education, which had a combined capacity of only 9,915 slots across all the universities, received a total application of 30,509 students.

Bachelor of Commerce, whose 6,949 total declared capacity by universities was the second most preferred programme in 2018.

The programme received a total of 24,495 applications. Bachelor of Pharmacy ranked third in most sought programmes by students in last years placement with 11,491 applications received to fill up available 275.

Further details show that Bachelor of Arts, which had a total capacity of 3,050 spaces across all the universities, attracted 9,153 applications.

However, Bachelor of Quantity Surveying, which had a small total capacity of 115 slots across all the universities, attracted 8,334 applications closing the short list of the most sought programmes in last year’s admission.

Other popular programmes that attracted more applications are Bachelor of Architectural studies, which had a total capacity of 136 but attracted some 7,208 applications.

Law attracted some 6,997 students, yet the total capacity was only 690.

Bachelor of Science (electrical and electronics engineering), which had a total capacity of 335, received 3,821 applications. Bachelor of Engineering received 2,556 against an overall capacity of 363.

Bachelor of Medicine, with a capacity of 496, closed the top 10 most popular programmes with 2,486 applications.

High admissions

Cooperative University admitted the highest number of students picked to study diploma and degree programmes.

The university admitted 5,333 students. Of these, only 881 were degree students, with the rest being diploma. Technical University of Mombasa also admitted 3,275 students, being the highest diploma admission.

Overall, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology admitted 4,866 students, being the highest number of degree students taken in.

Kenyatta University was second with 4,667 students followed by University of Nairobi with 4,540. Moi University admitted 3,865 as Maseno University took in 2,712 students and Mount Kenya University admitting 2,446.

Egerton University admitted 2, 328 students, Masinde Muliro of Science and Technology took in 2, 269 and Kabarak University admitted 2,181. Chuka University closed the top 10 universities with high admissions of 2,107 students.