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Shock of Master’s degree holders teaching PhD classes

Running unapproved degree courses, lack of teaching staff and operating near noisy bus terminus are part of the rot in public universities revealed by an advisory committee.

The committee, whose members include former University of Nairobi vice-chancellors Prof George Magoha and Prof Crispus Kiamba said that universities have little regard for the regulator—the Commission for University Education (CUE).

The increased set up of satellite campuses by public universities has been blamed for the falling standards of degree programmes that has seen Masters degree holders teaching PhD candidates.


“Campuses are established mainly for commercial purposes. This has compromised the basic function of a university of fostering education, learning and research,” reads the committee report that was presented to Education secretary Fred Matiang’i on October 25.

Kisii University was among the centres found to be running unapproved degree courses. It was also operating a campus close to the Eldoret bus station, which is in breach of standards set by the CUE for suitable location.

“The suitability of Talita Centre is still questionable given that it is located in the proximity of a bus terminus, which is a noisy environment that is not conducive for learning,” said the report.

Last year, the CUE condemned eight universities for operating campuses in noisy locations of Nairobi’s city centre. The crackdown came amid concerns from employers that the higher learning institutions were producing graduates unfit for the labour market.

More shocking was the quality of teaching staff, especially at the new campuses.


For instance, the business school of Kisii University’s Eldoret campus has 78 PhD students being handled by two PhD holder lecturers.

“These two staff also teach the 266 Master’s students. The lack of faculty staff at the campuses puts to question the quality of learning in these institutions,” added the advisory committee.

The CUE data show that more than half of the country’s 10,350 lecturers have no PhDs and that 4,394 students or one per cent of the total population of learners are enrolled for doctoral degrees.

This will make it difficult to implement fresh guidelines that require only holders of PhDs to lecture at universities. This rule takes effect in 2018.

Kenya has a total of 48 universities- 34 being public and 24 private. It had nine public universities in 2012.

Lecturers with Master’s degrees will be reduced to tutorial or junior research fellows, according to the new guidelines.

“There is limited appreciation by the universities on the role of CUE (regulator),”said the advisory committee. “Universities flout CUE standards and regulations with impunity.”