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New CUE, education council tussle over courses accreditation

By Paul Ogemba | December 17th 2020
Commission for University Education chairman prof. Chacha Nyaigotti. [File, Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

The universities regulator has dismissed attempts by the Council for Legal Education (CLE) to list institutions they claim to have accredited to offer law, saying a court had settled the matter.

Commission for University Education (CUE) Chairperson Chacha Nyaigoti asked students and the institutions' administrators to ignore any publication on academic courses accreditation, saying the role to accredit and approve courses was theirs.

“We inspect, approve and accredit all academic programmes in universities and any person purporting to usurp that role is mistaken because even the courts have affirmed that fact,” said Prof Chacha.

Sole mandate

“Let them wait for students to graduate before they give the professional examinations to admit them to the profession, like it happens in medicine,” said Chacha, and cautioned that programmes approvals were a sole mandate of the commission.

He said some law graduates did not even practice, as they ventured into other activities beyond the profession.

On Tuesday, CLE issued a notice of the status of institutions it had licensed to offer courses in law and legal studies, despite a court order that CUE is the only mandated body to regulate the standards and accredit courses in consultation with individual universities.

In the notice signed by CLE Chief Executive Officer JK Gakeri, the council has licensed 17 universities to offer Bachelor of Laws degree, while three others were licensed to offer Diploma in Law programmes.

But in response to the CLE decision to bypass CUE, Prof Chacha asked the public to ignore the council’s publication and only check the commission’s website for accredited universities and courses.

“We urge Kenyans to disregard any report that has not emanated from us as the regulatory accrediting agency. Those who want to check credibility of law courses should check our website,” he said.

Violation of court order

He said the Court of Appeal had ruled in the commission’s favour and any institution going against the decision would be in violation of the court order.

Court of Appeal Judges Mohammed Warsame, Daniel Musinga and Fatuma Sichale on December 4 ruled that CUE was the only mandated body to regulate the standards and accredit courses in consultation with individual universities, as provided in Section 5 of the Universities Act. The judges dismissed an application filed by several professional associations challenging CUE’s mandate, ruling that they lacked merit as the Act was clear on who should accredit university courses

The court’s decision brought to an end a long-running battle between the commission and several professional associations who demanded that they be given authority to supervise university courses.

But CLE has now reopened the battle by purporting to issue the notice of the universities they have accredited to offer the law courses.

According to CLE, they have licensed Strathmore University to offer Masters in Law until November 2024, while Nazarene, Chuka, Moi, University of Nairobi and Umma University are accredited until December 2025.

They licensed Kisii and Embu universities to offer law until April 2024, while Daystar, Mt Kenya and UoN Kisumu campus have been licensed until July 2023.

Kenyatta, Riara, Catholic, JKUAT, Egerton and UoN’s Mombasa campus would have their licenses running till end of 2021.

In the court case, the professional associations had challenged Section 5A of the Universities (Amendment) Act 2016 that provides that the accreditation, recognition, licensing, student indexing and approval of any academic programme offered at a university be done by CUE.

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