Faced with emerging challenges from multiple statutory regulatory bodies that have to be fulfilled in the provision of higher education in Kenya, there is urgent need for universities to formulate creative approaches useful in entrenching a culture of self evaluation to enhance quality and relevance of academic programmes. According to Prof. Henry Thairu, Chairman, Commission for University Education (CUE), the agency that regulates university education in Kenya, it was vital for universities to pursue excellence as a way of augmenting the requirements of the various regulatory bodies.
Prof. Thairu was addressing over 10 officials of the Council of Engineering Deans, a body established in March 2014, with members drawn from 11 Universities in Kenya to address the challenges associated with accreditation of engineering academic programmes in the respective universities.
Prof. Thairu told the engineering heads, their academic fields had to endure dual accreditation by the Engineers Board of Kenya and by the CUE, a fact that he admitted was responsible for the confusion as to which body had the final say in the accreditation of engineering programmes.
‘The situation has been made worse by the removal, from the purview of the CUE, of the provision to accredit academic programmes of chartered universities,’ said Prof. Thairu.
The Chairman however said his Commission was working closely with Engineers Board of Kenya to ensure seamless accreditation of engineering programmes.
‘The Commission has taken the route of constructive engagement with professional bodies even as legal solution is sought through the amendment of the relevant laws to institutionalise dual accreditation’.
Prof. Thairu said he was aware the Universities Act 2012 was in the process of being revised saying he was confident it would cure some of the problems associated with programme accreditation.
He told the engineering deans that the country had largely overcome access to university education dilemma through the establishment of more universities which now stands at 70 besides the introduction of module two programmes.
A decade ago he said, a minimum entry grade in some of the degree programmes stood at A minus, a situation that has now drastically changed as a result of the establishment of more universities, now offering over 1000 academic programmes.
Since inception in 2014, the Council of Engineering Deans, chaired by Prof. Bernard Ikua, Principal, College of Engineering and Technology, JKUAT has reported various innovative outcomes crucial in enhancing the accreditation, training, and research in engineering programmes in Kenya.
Kenyatta University’s Dean, School of Engineering and Technology Eng. Martin Nzomo, said one laudable approach initiated by the Council is the launch of a resource sharing programme among member universities. This include the establishment of the positions of adjunct professors and engineering staff exchange partnerships. The practice too allows sharing of engineering facilities.
The deans were drawn from Council member institutions including University of Nairobi, Moi University and Dedan Kimathi University of Technology.