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Attorney General rejects varsity courses accreditation agreement

By Augustine Oduor | September 24th 2021
Attorney General Kihara Kariuki [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Attorney General Kihara Kariuki has dismissed a deal between the universities regulator and professional bodies to undertake double accreditation of academic programmes.

In his advisory to the Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, Justice Kariuki said the move would go against the provisions of the Universities Act.

The Commission for University Education (CUE) signed a memorandum of understanding with four professional bodies.

Kariuki says the deal with the Nursing Council of Kenya, Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Council, the Engineers Board of Kenya and Council of Legal Education may have led to double payments for the accreditation.

In his letter dated September 16, Kariuki says CUE has the exclusive mandate for the recognition, licensing, student indexing, approval or accreditation of any academic programmes at university.

The AG also cites Section 5A of the Universities Act that provides for conflicts with other statutes in approval of programmes.

“If there is a conflict between the provisions of this Act and the provisions of any other Act in matters relating approval or accreditation of academic programmes offered by universities, the provisions of this Act shall prevail,” he said.

Much as the High Court had affirmed the exclusive role of CUE in programmes accreditation, he said the regulator could consult the relevant professional bodies.

The letter is copied to Cabinet Secretaries Ukur Yatani (National Treasury), Mutahi Kagwe (Health) and James Macharia (Transport).

On Monday, Prof Magoha told CUE Chief Executive Mwenda Ntarangwi to comply with the advisory.

“I direct the Commission to address itself to the advisory from the AG in exercising its exclusive mandate or accreditation in accordance with section 5A of the Universities Act,” said Magoha in a letter copied to Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Kagwe, Yatani, Macharia and University Education PS Simon Nabukwesi.

The AG termed as criminal offence for any body other than CUE to purport to license, accredit, recognise, audit, inspect, index students or collect a fee or a charge from a university or student without authority of CUE.

Kariuki said sections of the agreement means that the regulator and the bodies shall levy separate fees payable by universities.

Further, the AG said the MoUs will have the effect of preserving a dual accreditation regime.

“Given that the law as interpreted by the High Court is to the effect that accreditation of academic programmes in universities is the exclusive mandate of CUE, the MoUs are contra-statute to the extent that they envisage that universities will make applications and pay for accreditations or renewals to both Commission and professional bodies.” 

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