SECTIONS

Varsities to compete for students

 By AUGUSTINE ODUOR

Kenya: Admission to public universities is set to change, as students will now apply for courses of their choice after receiving their KCSE examination results.

This will be a major departure from the current practice, where students apply for the courses before knowing their academic performance, a development that has seen thousands miss their dream courses. In addition, students will be provided with vouchers, which they will use to get admission to both public and private universities to study courses of their choices.

Commission for University Education chief executive Prof David Some said major changes in university admission would be effected in coming years in the spirit of the new Universities Act 2012. He, however, noted that for transition purposes, courses chosen by students who wrote last years Form Four national examinations be used.  And this year, Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCSP) is expected to co-ordinate placement of ‘government sponsored’ students to universities and colleges.

KUCCPS replaces Joint Admissions Board (JAB), which only admitted qualified students to public universities. John Muraguri, the head of KUCCPS secretariat said under the Universities Act 2012, the State is expected to sponsor all qualified candidates who will be admitted by the Service to both public and private universities and colleges.

Major shift

He, however, did not indicate if the state funding would start this year. The new development, however, means that after receiving their KCSE results, students will be given fees vouchers, which they will use to look for admissions in universities of their choice. It also means that courses will get funding based on their unit cost. “The differentiated unit cost means that Medicine or Science  courses will get higher allocation compared to Arts,” said Muraguri.

National Association of Private Universities of Kenya (Napuk) officials said the development would motivate them to invest in Science courses.  “Investment in these courses has lagged behind because of their high cost. Most students cannot afford them. But if the State will pay for them then we shall see a major shift in that regard,” said Napuk chairman Simon Gicharu.

This means the quality of education and existing infrastructure for teaching the various courses will guide students choice of universities. Stakeholders say this is expected to heighten positive competition among public and private universities. This means it will no longer be business as usual as private universities will now scramble for the students with public institutions.