Universities to offer only degree in newly proposed law

Universities could be banned from offering diploma and certificate courses if a new law before Parliament is enacted.

The move, meant to strengthen tertiary institutions, would be a big financial blow to universities that are already reeling from financial crisis. 

In a new bill, Embakasi Central MP Benjamin Gathiru Mejjadonk wants students pursuing diploma and certificate courses to be admitted in tertiary institutions.

He says these institutions, have suffered low enrollment for years.

Mejjadonk has proposed amendments to the Universities Act, 2012 to entrench the proposed changes

In the proposed law, The Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the MP proposes that universities should only offer postgraduate diplomas and postgraduate certificates.

“The principal object of this Bill is to end the practice of universities offering certificate and diploma courses,” the MP says in the bill’s memorandum of objects and reasons.

“This is informed by the fact that there are two bodies certifying certificate and diploma courses.”

The proposed law seeks to prohibit the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service from placing students to undertake the courses at a university.

“Notwithstanding subsection 3, the placement board shall not place any student in a university to undertake a diploma or certificate course,” the Bill reads.

Presently, the certificates are ratified by the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority for technical and vocational colleges and Commission for University Education in the case of universities.

“Universities are intended to be institutions of higher learning and academic research. In this regard, they should focus on degree and postgraduate programmes as opposed to certificate and diploma courses,” the MP said.

He added that “limiting certificate and diploma courses to technical and vocational colleges will increase enrolment into these institutions.”

“The technical and vocational colleges usually record low enrolment numbers despite the government investing heavily in these institutions,” Mejjadonk said.

As a saving grace, students currently pursuing diploma and certificate courses at entry level in various universities will not be affected.

“Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection 1 (e), a university may continue to offer diploma and certificate courses to a student undertaking the courses before the commencement of this Act,” the Bill reads in part.

This is to allow the learners to complete their studies in the current arrangement.

Chancellors of universities, if the proposal becomes law, will be barred from awarding basic certificate and diploma courses.

The Bill further seeks to empower CUE to recogniSe and equate postgraduate certificate and diplomas conferred by foreign universities and institutions.

Mejjadonk seeks to amend the existing law to mandate CUE as the state agency charged with the responsibility of recognising postgraduate diplomas and certificates offered by universities.

CUE is also being mandated in the proposed law to make regulations providing for a procedure of equating postgraduate and diploma courses conferred by foreign universities.

The proposed law, which is due for first reading this week, stands to affect a number of public and private varsities that rely on the courses to shore up their admission numbers.

This would mean loss of revenue from tuition and other ancillary services that students pay for to pursue the courses.

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