By Rawlings Otieno
Nairobi, Kenya: Admissions to public universities this year will hit an all-time high of 53,010 — a breezy 26 per cent above last year’s — thanks to the rapid expansion of college places.
The increase in capacity has lowered the qualifying mark for this year’s freshmen to 61 from last year’s 63 points, the Joint Admissions Board (JAB) announced during a media briefi ng at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) on the 2013-14 academic calendar.
The admissions body resolved that all the 53,010 candidates who scored a minimum aggregate of B of 61 points and above be admitted to the 22 public universities and their constituent colleges.
However, women who scored two points lower than the cut off mark will be admitted as part of the traditional affirmative action policy. This means women will join the universities with a minimum mean grade of B plain of 60 and B- of 59 points respectively.
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Board chairperson Prof Mabel Imbuga said members had also considered those candidates drawn from severe hardship areas who will be allocated special places.
“We have decided as board to give 94 slots for candidates from pure arid areas and another 2,979 admissions to the female candidates under the JAB gender affirmative policy,” said Imbuga.
Imbuga, who is the JKUAT Vice Chancellor, said that students with disabilities would be at liberty to choose any course as long as they obtained a mean grade of C+ and above.
More than 69,900 candidates who attained the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) pass mark of C+ last year failed to meet the JAB mark.
Many of these, as well as others who scored lower, are now expected to enroll in private universities at home and abroad and in self-sponsored programmes in the public universities.
Private universities admit on average 10,000 students while another 30,000 students go abroad for their university education. Another 30,000 or so enlist in self-sponsored courses
The admitted students are expected to start their first year studies for the 2013-2014 academic year in September.
Top admission chart
For the first time, the University of Nairobi will not top the admission chart having relinquished the mantle to Moi University, which has vacancies for 5,861 students.
Moi is followed by Kenyatta University who will take 5,566 while UoN will admit 5,387.
Egerton University will take 3,443, Maseno University will admit 3,040 while the newly established University of Eldoret, formerly Chepkoilel University College, will admit 2,943 under its new status.
According to JAB, each university senate decides the number of students to be admitted based on the facilities and capacity of the university.
Another first is Garissa University College, the pioneer institution in Northern Kenya, which has been allocated 699 students.
But Imbuga clarified that the Board revised the weighted cluster formula and will use the subject performance index of the candidate in addition to the grade to calculate the weighted cluster points.
“In order to arrive at the precise cut off points for degree programmes from this year, the board has revised the weighted cluster formula and will use the subject performance index of the candidate,” said Imbuga.
The board further resolved that all those admitted will be given an opportunity to revise their degree choices.
This means that candidates wishing to change their preferred courses will be allowed to do so but will have to wait a little bit longer since the revision dates will be announced by JAB at a later date.
And as has been in the past, candidates will be admitted to their degree programmes based on their weighted cluster points.
Once JAB completes the admission of candidates of a particular year, it hands over the lists of admission to the respective universities for further action.
The universities are therefore expected to get in touch with their admitted candidates and inform them of their reporting dates.
In addition, JAB also sends to secondary schools lists of admitted candidates from their schools showing the universities and the courses where they have been admitted.
In the past, thousands of students who passed their KCSE have missed out on opportunities to join public universities, which have previously been pegging their admission to bed capacity.
However, in the past few years, universities have embraced a double intake, which has not only reduced the period that students wait at home before joining campus but also increased the number of admissions.