Legal hitches stalling varsity merger plans, says Magoha

But CS insists institutions should scrap unnecessary courses, halt unplanned expansion and reduce duplication of degree programmes

In Summary

• Education CS George Magoha says the law as it is bars him from taking any radical changes.

• During the meeting, Magoha ruled out any extra funding for the institutions by the exchequer.

Education CS George Magoha.
HANDS TIED: Education CS George Magoha.

Legal bottlenecks are the reason radical reforms to merge and downsize universities are yet to begin a year later, Education CS George Magoha has said. 

In March last year, Magoha made a proposal for the mergers of the 32 public universities and closure of some campuses. 

The changes would also involve the axing of unnecessary courses, stopping duplication of degree programmes and halting the expansion of satellite campuses.


"Until they change the law, I can sit pretty. If there is change in law then I will do something," Magoha said Monday.

The CS spoke during the opening of the International Conference on University Education that ends today.

During the meeting, Magoha ruled out any extra funding for the institutions by the exchequer.

However, he insisted on the need to close some universities, freeze on further expansion and reduce the courses offered to save the cash-strapped institutions. 

The proposal also championed for scrapping off courses perceived to be less relevant and cutting down on the number of staff.

He further gave a three-month window for the vice chancellors to prepare recommendations on how the reforms would be done.


He also directed the Commission for University Education to audit and prepare reports that would form the basis for transforming the institutions.

“Ensure that if your university can produce just 10 PhDs in a year then they can stand the water.

“Don’t be in a rush to say that you have graduated 100 PhDs. Are you sure they are PhDs or fellows whose theses have been written by others?” Magoha said.

The cabinet secretary also questioned the relevance of the university councils

“Vice chancellors you need to ask yourselves, are you benefiting from the currently constituted university councils.

“Is there something that should be done to make you benefit from them? If the law does not make it available,  it is up to you to talk but,” he said.


Reduced enrollment has led to decreased revenues in universities, most of which are reeling in huge debts, inadequate facilities and fewer lecturers.

On Monday, the CS renewed calls to stop further expansion of universities as they seek solutions to the current ones.

Leading opponents of the plan are the academic staff union and the VCs who want more funding for the institutions to keep them afloat.

Vice chancellors on Monday put up a spirited fight against the merger plans, defending the size of the institutions versus the demand.

The Universities Academic Staff Union opposed the merger plan, saying it was punitive and risked undermining higher education.

Secretary-general Constantine Wasonga wondered how merging broke universities would make them financially sound. 

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