Crisis in Kenya universities due to shortage of professors

A new report indicates many students from local universities even graduate without having a personal interaction with a professor.

The state of university education report released yesterday details an acute shortage of professors in the country.

"In all categories of universities, there were very few faculty staff at senior lecturer or professor levels. The bulk of staff were at lecturer and lower levels. This is a cause for worry as it means that there are very few academic leaders to mentor scholars in the sector," reads the report that was launched yesterday during a meeting at Kenyatta University.

The report launched during the first biennial conference on the state of higher education found that currently, one professor serves up to 98 students.

It further says in some academic programmes, one lecturer teaches an average of up to 200 students, against the internationally recommend ratio of 30.

The report says overall, the academic staff establishment in both public and private universities stands at 16,318 against a surging student population.

Some 8,693 university lecturers have master's qualifications and 656 have diploma papers. Kenya universities offer some 3,408 academic programmes.

The new report points to a major crisis, with fears that the quality of education may be at risk.

"The resultant capacity deficit means the quality of education may be affected. This, therefore, calls for concerted efforts by the players to fast-track the staff development process," reads the report.

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i said enrolment at public universities had risen from 100,649 in 2008/2009 to over 364,598 in 2014/15.

Currently, the report says, there are 539,749 students enrolled across public and private institutions. Of these, 461,818 are in public universities with only 77,930 enrolled in private institutions.

Academic staff shortage

"Rapid expansion in students enrolment is increasingly putting pressure on institutions in the absence of a corresponding increase in academic staff capacity and space," reads the report.

The report further says the inadequate number of professors hampers development of a pool of academic mentors.

Last year, chartered public universities only graduated 417 PhD students. In 2014, the universities produced 385 graduates.

Overall, public universities have only produced 1,203 PhD graduates since 2012. Over the same period of time, the universities graduated only 16,561 master's degrees. However, some 120,328 undergraduate students have graduated in the past four years.

Chartered private universities only graduated 52 PhD students last year. This compares to 42 PhD graduates in 2014. Overall, since 2012, chartered private universities have only produced 157 PhDs.

These universities only produced 8,484 master's students over the same period of time. Some 62,064 bachelors students have graduated.