University councils may take over power to hire top staff from Public Service Commission

Public Service Commission (PSC) may be stripped power to hire top university staff.

The education reforms team has proposed that the relevant sections of the Universities Act be amended to allow councils to recruit vice-chancellors.

The councils will also recruit deputy vice-chancellors, and principals and deputy principals of constituent colleges, a role presently performed by PSC.

The education task force proposes that the process be conducted by a selection panel that will advertise the vacant positions, shortlist and interview qualified applicants.

If the recommendation is adopted, the process of recruiting a substantive VC will begin six months before the expiry of the tenure of the sitting one and will take 14 days.

The team will select five names, and submit three in the order of merit for the appointment of the VC and DVC, principal of colleges and deputy principals.

This will be done without the involvement of the PSC.

Insiders in the task force revealed that the decision was informed by stakeholders' claims of poor governance in higher learning institutions.

They argued this has been an impediment towards the effective performance of universities.

In addition, they cited the governance of universities and leakages in management, which indicated laps in institutions' performances.

To remedy this, the team suggests that there should be continuous capacity building of the managers and the council

Currently, appointing VCs, DVCs, principals and deputy principals involves nominating five names by the universities senate, which are submitted to the PSC for shortlisting.

Here, three names are picked in order of merit and sent to the Education Cabinet Secretary, who appoints the officer in consultation with the university council.

The 49-member task force also sets a benchmark for any person who wishes to be appointed as chancellor. It recommends that the person must have a PhD and a distinguished career in the public or private sector. The council should also fill the position, not PSC as is the case.

If the report is adopted, the President will appoint the university chancellor within 30 days after the senate has submitted five names.