The bewildering heat on proposed varsity reforms

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Universities are in a rush to beat Friday’s deadline to submit crucial data to the Commission for University Education (CUE) that is likely to seal the fate of some of them. This will be the second detailed document that public universities will be providing to the regulator that will play a critical role in determining their viability, with some of them likely to be shut down and others being merged.

The first report was submitted to CUE by June 30. Staff are staring at the possibility of job losses that will be occasioned by a CUE report set to be submitted to Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha by July 30. Auditor-General Edward Ouko has already indicated that a majority of public universities are insolvent due to debts and failure to meet their financial obligations. Several university administrators protested that the details being sought by the government require more time.

Amidst the confusion, university student leaders have expressed their concerns in accordance with which the reforms are being instituted drastically. University of Nairobi president Ann Mvurya, explains that even as the reforms are deemed necessary or not, proper consultation mechanisms should be put in place to avoid possible drawbacks.

“It is just in recent times where their ministry scrapped off the self-sponsored program in the universities as they strive to make a higher transition rate to universities from highschools. Then came the question of scrapping off courses and before that was fully digested, the shift was on chatter legalization. As of now, the reforms on the table are the curriculum, to scrap some universities and merge others. This is all happening drastically and manifesting without clarity thus creating confusion mostly on students, university administrations and the general public.” she said.

she also added that the government should consider increasing funding to respective universities to mitigate the insolvency crisis.”The government should consider increasing funding to universities since their sources are in recent times very limited. As student representatives, we are looking forward to proper engagements by the ministry ranging from universities academic staff union up to the lowest level. That way, there will be deliberations on what is the fault and what should be implemented.” she added.

The Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) has vowed to oppose any merger, saying stakeholders have not been consulted. Uasu Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga wondered how merging broke universities will make them financially sound. “The mergers will affect jobs and, as a union, we will oppose them at all costs,” said Dr. Wasonga, while accusing the government of failing to provide enough resources to the institutions.

 

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