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UoN, USIU, Strathmore attract most foreign students – report

The country has 5,218 foreign students, majority in public universities

In Summary
  • • Top courses include business and economic courses attracted 42.5 per cent of the students, followed by Engineering (10 per cent).
  • • Herman Manyora, the lead CPS researcher, argues that the opportunity and revenue muscle available in foreign students is greatly under-utilised by universities.
Students at the University of Nairobi.
Students at the University of Nairobi.
Image: UoN

The University of Nairobi, USIU, Strathmore University, MKU and Kenyatta University are the top five institutions in the country attracting foreign students.

This is contained in a report released on Thursday. The report shows that most of these students come from Eastern Africa countries, accounting for 72.6 per cent of the total population of foreign students.

According to the report, the country has just about 5,218 foreign students with a majority (67 per cent) preferring public universities to private institutions.

The research – State of International students in Kenya 2021— was conducted by the research group CPS International in 71 universities.

It involved 57 university administrators and 816 international students.

With a university student population of 560,000 according to the latest figures by the Education ministry, the number is viewed as a drop in the ocean by the research team.

The University of Nairobi leads the pack with 1,300 students enrolled, USIU (1,100), Strathmore (660), MKU (560), Kenyatta University (472), Moi University (322), JKUAT (300), CUEA (255), Egerton University (130) and Maseno University (119) foreign students.

Top among countries seeking the Kenyan university education include Uganda accounting for (19.9 per cent) of foreign students, South Sudan (19.2), Tanzania (18.8), Somalia (18) and Nigeria closes the top five countries at (9.9 per cent).

Top courses include business and economic courses which attracted 42.5 per cent of the students, followed by engineering (10 per cent), medical course (8.3 per cent), teacher training and education courses (7.7 per cent), natural science (6.8 per cent).

Herman Manyora, the lead CPS researcher, argues that the opportunity and revenue muscle available to foreign students is greatly under-utilised by universities.

“This institutions have a chance in making billions in revenue, we could have students from Malawi, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania and many other countries trooping into the country if we get it right,” Manyora said on Thursday while launching the report.

However, the expansion of international students has been hindered by securing of student visas.

The students also identified insecurity, high cost of living and poor accommodation as the main hindrance to attracting more international students.

To grow the number of those seeking to come in as foreign students, the report recommends easing the process of applying for and renewing of student visa.

It also suggests formation of an international desk in each university to provide both academic and non-academic support for the students.

Stability in the academic calendar, need for a robust e-learning system have also been identified as areas if resolved that will spike the number of foreign students.

“You’ll find that a student joins a course that should take at least three years and ends up being in the institution for five or more years, these are things that we should resolve,” Manyora said.

-Edited by Sarah Kanyara