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Shock of near 600,000 learners who skipped varsity placement

Education CS Ezekiel Machogu. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

It is now emerging that almost 600,000 students who sat last year’s Form Four national examinations cannot be accounted for, even after they qualified for placement to universities and colleges.

Of the 870,561 candidates who were eligible for universities and colleges places, only 285,167 students submitted applications for placement to universities and colleges.

This means 585,394 did not show interest in pursuing any course in university or colleges as they did not make any applications at all. A few however sought places in tertiary institutions on their own.

Of these, are 23,515 students who scored the university entry grade of C­+ and above and were eligible for degree courses but did not show interests at all on the placement process. These are the shocking details revealed by Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu on Monday when he released placement data for universities and colleges.

Machogu said the trends in admission captured in the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement (KUCCPS) data is worrying.

“We are concerned because those who qualify for degrees to a tune of 23,125 did not apply to any programme, equally 136,592 representing 63.94 per cent who qualify for diploma courses did not apply, also 249,149 who qualified for certificate courses signifying 86.42 per cent have applied at all,” he said.

Questions have emerged whether the new funding model pushed many students to stay away from selecting courses as they may have thought that they stand no chance to secure government scholarships.

In the new funding plan, universities were asked to declare the available capacities, the courses they teach and also attach costs.

Insiders argue that many parents and students may have believed that they may not secure scholarships or loans to fund their education and thus opted to keep off the applications.

“During this Placement Cycle, KUCCPS published the costs of all programmes in Universities, Colleges, National Polytechnics and other TVET institutions. This was to guide students in making choices based on the financial implications, programme of study, and institution they wish to join,” Machogu said.

For the first time, parents had a chance to scan through university courses and also see costs attached to the programmes when deciding where to send their children.

The government said funding of students will be based on four categories namely; vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy.

Families were also able to assess their financial capability and whether they may qualify for government scholarships while making choices for courses.

Scholarships

This means parents and guardians may have opted to select courses that they may fully fund in case they failed to secure scholarships.

But even with this, universities and colleges are also on the spot for not attracting students to take up their courses as it emerged that they had declared a total available capacity of 768,624.

Machogu said this is the total available spaces declared by the 69 universities, 210 TVET institutions and three Secondary Teacher Training Colleges.

The CS said, according to KUCCPS, only 285,167 students secured places in degree, diploma, craft certificate and artisan courses in 282 training institutions. This means about 483, 457 spaces are vacant across the universities and colleges.

And speaking at the release of the placement data, KUCCPS Chief Executive Mercy Wahome also termed the trend as shocking.

KUCCPS data also shows that top public universities that previously scooped thousands of students during placements recorded reduced numbers.

This is because for the first time, students were able to make choices based on costs of courses displayed on the KUCCPS portal.

Overall, Machogu said that only 140,107 were placed in university programmed. Of these, were 130,484 placed in public universities.

Another 9,622 to private universities, which means that they shunned government scholarships and opted for private institutions.

According to the new funding plan unveiled by President William Ruto, students who make applications to study in private universities do not qualify for scholarships. They however are eligible for loans.

This means that nearly 10,000 students went to the KUCCPS portal and opted to reject government scholarships.

And the number of those who chose private universities this time, is still similar to those previously placed in those institutions and funded by the government.

Funding of these students in private universities faced stiff opposition from various quarters, including public institutions' leadership.

Machogu yesterday announced that some 144,500 were placed in TVETs and 560 in secondary teacher training colleges.

He also said that some 9,673 who qualified for degree courses opted to be placed in TVET institutions.

What is however shocking is the low number is students taking up courses in higher education, leading to mass wastage. Dr Wahome also indicted that more male students took up the degree courses while female students showed more interest in TVET courses.

Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) Chief Executive Charles Ringera said students will be able to know their categorisation in the next 45 days.

Machogu said that out of the 2022 KCSE graduates, more than 45,000 university students and 42,000 TVET students categorised as vulnerable and extremely needy, will be fully funded with the Government Scholarships and Loans.

The successful candidates, however, will be the first lot to be admitted to universities under the new government funding model released by the President on May 2. They will join university in September.

The new funding model, Machogu said, will award government support on need level and basis.

In this year’s cycle, the placement body also took up the placement of learners to the Kenya Medical Training College and teaching colleges.

Machogu said that placement to Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) and 32 Primary Teacher Training Colleges is still ongoing.

“I encourage all eligible students to take advantage of these opportunities to apply for the programmes,” he said.

“Our target is to work together with other line ministries to centralise the placement of students in all colleges in the country through KUCCPS,” Machogu added.