Education Cabinet secretary George Magoha yesterday maintained that no new universities would be created in the country –at least in the near future.
Magoha made the remarks as he faulted the Commission for University Education (CUE), who he blamed for “allowing the sector to get into the current mess”.
He said there is a need to examine whether universities are about numbers or quality and bring back sanity in the institutions.
He further regretted that the original concept of expanding universities’ space was being fed through falsehoods driven by cheating in the national examination.
“My employer told me that there will be no more new universities and that I make sure to return sanity to higher learning. What has gone wrong with our universities? If we are not prepared to deal with the situation in universities, we will sink with it,” he said.
The CS had directed CUE to conduct an audit of universities and the courses being undertaken and submit a comprehensive report of the current situation by the end of this month.
“CUE is not doing its work as they should because nobody should create a course and start teaching it before the commission has confirmed it has human and infrastructural status. CUE will be strengthened,” he said.
He dismissed an argument by vice-chancellors that downsizing the institutions will also mean the same for student numbers.
“You have many universities that are scattered all over and duplicating the administrative structures with faculties that do not exist. We need to synergise universities to stop the ‘copy cut’ situation and deal with thematic areas,” he said.
The CS made the remarks yesterday when he met with Kenya Editors Guild at a Nairobi hotel.
“It is true that the Constitution provides that there should be universities in all counties but it did not say in how many years,” he said.
A report dubbed the ‘Status of University Education in the country’ prepared by Vice-Chancellors Committee of public universities has indicated that increased university enrolment cannot be achieved by collapsing universities and amalgamating them with those that are already huge, in turn making them too large to run.
“It is already widely acknowledged that some universities are experiencing diseconomies of scale by their sheer size. It is also felt that collapsing smaller universities, which seem to be the more viable units, to join the bigger universities, some of which are reported to be steeped in debt and operating on huge deficits, may not help to improve quality and sustainability,” the Vice-Chancellors argued.
They argue that the Universities Act of 2012, Section 26 provides for the establishment of public universities in each of the 47 counties.
They said that any attempts to have already established universities unchartered would be going against the letter and spirit of the law, which amounts to offending the law.
“As things stand now, several counties expect to have a university established in their jurisdiction; thus, according to the Act, more universities should be initiated in the counties that do not have a university,” reads the report.