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Universities set to drop unattractive courses in new reforms



 Grandaunts at Maseno University in 2018. Rotich sends strongest indication yet that government is keen to close some institutions of higher learning. [File, Standard]

Public universities could lay off thousands of staff after President William Ruto and Vice Chancellors agreed to do away with programs that do not attract students.

The Standard has established that the meeting held in State House, Nairobi, on Tuesday resolved that academic programmes in some universities will be dropped while others will be transferred to institutions with a strong niche in the respective fields.

The impact of this is looming re-organisation which could result in job cuts as Ruto begins to implement his reform plan that would lead to the downsizing of universities.

The plan mirrors a previous proposal in 2018 by the late former Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to merge universities and close others while cutting down on non-responsive courses.

In the new reform agenda, universities and the State Department of Higher Education have been tasked with identifying courses that do not have students and consolidating others.

This will in turn give way to specialisation of universities; meaning the institutions will now focus and teach courses on specific fields.

Data from the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service shows that over 100 courses attracted less than 10 students in the 2023 university placement.

This means some of the programmes could be scrapped in planned reforms.

The courses include Food Security, Horticulture, Soil Science, Forestry, Dryland Agriculture, Biological Sciences, Geophysics and Mineralogy, Aquaculture and Fisheries Technology, and Environmental Chemistry.

Other courses that got only one student placed nationally are Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management, Bachelor of Science Networks and Communication Systems, Bachelor of Industrial Technology, Water Resource and Environmental Management, Environmental Resource Management, Library and Knowledge Management, and Bachelor of Arts Chaplaincy.

The State House meeting also deliberated on changes in funding students under the outgoing university funding model.

The model dubbed Differentiated Unit Cost(DUC) paid up to 80 per cent of student fees while the students covered the remaining 20 per cent.

However, the funding model has suffered significant challenges including under-funding by the government.

According to the Ministry of Education, the government only provides 42 per cent of the DUC meaning the institutions suffer a shortfall of 38 per cent.

However, in the meeting, it is reported that President Ruto pledged to increase the allocation to 50 per cent.

The President directed VCs must come up with incentives to attract students to enroll for courses that can propel Kenya to the next level.

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