Fresh audit of staff, and students to help fix varsities woes

Students, teaching staff and workers in public universities will go through a fresh audit to ascertain their exact numbers in the institutions. [iStockphoto]

Universities regulator has said students and teaching staff data in public institutions will be subjected to fresh audit to get actual numbers of learners.

The new Chief Executive Officer of the Commission for University Education (CUE) Mike Kuria said university staffing and students' accurate data will enable the universities to solve the financial burdens.

‘’We have a bloated staff register with some as ghosts which eat in the majority of university earnings. The invariance of student data also gives the government a challenge,” he said.

Prof Kuria urged universities to automate their data to enhance quality assurance. He said the audit framework will enable the commission to strengthen its financial recoveries. “The Higher Education DataMart will provide a single point of access to various higher education data collections and enable the government to implement several recommendations and in the collection of revenue from learners,” Kuria said.

Last year, Kabondo Kasipul MP Eve Obara, a member of the Education Committee, asked Vice Chancellors to conduct a staff audit and send a report to the Ministry of Education.

“How many do you have and their categories? What is their age? If you retire those with 50 years and above how much will you pay them? Or what is the best option of it all,” Obara said.

She said every university must prepare documentation on staff rationalisation.

“This is what will form the Cabinet paper that the ministry will send to Treasury alongside many other financing issues including waiver of statutory deductions,” Obara said.

Data released in 2020 reveals that there are some 32,784 workers in public universities. These include 10,572 teaching staff under the University Academic Staff Union and 13,719-odd members of the Kenya University Staff Union. Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions Hospital and Allied Workers has 8,493 workers. Staff data in public universities have been sticky with different sets of numbers presented to various government agencies. A 2017 audit by university managers and unions revealed that the public institutions had inflated staff data by 2,513.

Prof Kuria also pointed out that with a consolidated data bank from all universities and linkage across the region, will ease the headache on students’ certification.

“We need to instill a culture of Integrity in our institutions. The illegality of degrees or diplomas that students possess should not be a heated debate in the future if we work on proper standards when we have a strong database,” he stated.

This year, the Commission found itself at crossroads to prove the validity of degrees posed by politicians during clearance to vie for office at the August General election. Prof Kuria takes over CUE when education is undergoing transformation. He affirms his commitment to ensuring he engages institutions to prepare to change in line with the CBC system.

“Kenya has adequately trained capacity to look at any curriculum. As great curriculum developers review CBC, we want to move forward with a lot of confidence as we prepare to receive the new cohorts so that we are not caught flat-footed,” said Kuria.

Prof Kuria, a quality assurance professional, takes over from Prof Mwenda Ntarangwi who has been at the helm for five years. He worked as the Director, the Centre for Quality Assurance at Daystar University, for ten years during which Daystar University was selected by UNESCO as one of its case studies for good practice in quality assurance for higher education.