Friday, 8 March 2013

Growth of University Colleges Should be Controlled

The higher education sub-sector has witnessed exponential growth in the recent past despite the industrial unrests which have now become a norm. As countries like Gambia have only two universities, Kenya boasts of ten public universities and several private universities with the University of Eldoret, Narok and Kimathi Universities receiving their charters last week. Consequently, the number of students joining universities has increased over the recent years. This is a positive step given that the country is aiming to achieve a middle income status by the year 2030.

However, the university colleges are growing at an alarming rate. Some have argued that the rapid growth should be taken positively given that it is increasing access to higher education. Other pundits, on the other hand have argued that, the growth is due to power struggle in the university management where everybody wants to be a Principal, Finance Officer or the Vice Chancellor when the constituent college becomes fully fledged university. Others have attributed the mushrooming of the university colleges to politics where politicians want to have institutions of higher learning in their counties.

One of the adverse effects is that they take over middle level colleges which offer diploma and certificate programs. This has left a vacuum which has created a crisis whereby students who do not attain minimum grade for university entry lack a place to further their education. At this time, we only have two national polytechnics, that is, Eldoret and Kisumu Polytechnics which have resisted attempts to be taken-over by the universities. The constituent colleges also duplicate degree programs and as a result, we have excess supply of some professionals in the job market. Moreover, universities offer similar programs. 
Kenyans have shown significant interest in education but caution should be taken so that we do not end up with 47 or more universities not to mention the private universities which are also growing fast. It is therefore necessary to regulate the university colleges. The number of students taken to pursue different degree programs should be regulated to avoid surplus professionals and they should also diversify the degree programs.