VCs demand universities' ministry

The bosses made call on Friday in annual meet

In Summary
  • Currently, the university sector is a state department under the Ministry of Education.
  • Universities are yearning for independence at the height of the reforms spearheaded by President Ruto.
Students at the University of Nairobi
Students at the University of Nairobi
Image: UoN

University bosses now want the government to create a standalone University Education and Research ministry to make the sector fully independent.

The proposal came up during the first international annual conference for public universities' management in Mombasa.

Several VCs from public universities were in attendance.

In a communiqué read by the conference’s programme coordinator Ndirangu Kioni, the vice chancellors cited interference by other stakeholders.

"The challenge is over-legislation of universities. Our resolution is the formation of a separate ministry to deal with university issues," Kioni said.

The university sector is currently a state department under the Ministry of Education. It is headed by Principal Secretary Simon Nabukwesi.

Nabukwesi also decried the former [Education] committee for ‘killing’ ideas submitted by the stakeholders.

He said the conference would be ready to work with the new leadership.

“We are looking forward to briefing the new committee so that they think with us, reason with us and implement the ideas that will emerge from this conference,” he said.

The university bosses also decried political interference which they said interferes with the institution's mandate.

The vice chancellors urged leaders to shun involving universities in politics.

This is the first international annual conference for the public universities chairpersons of councils, vice chancellors and principals.

The three-day conference is themed ‘sustainable universities for national transformation'.

Among the issues under discussion was the review of the status of the education system at the university level.

"This lack of autonomy limits the admission of students and operations of universities among other functions," Kioni said.

Kioni, who is also Dedan Kimathi University vice chancellor, said university senates should be empowered to run the institutions.

The university chiefs blamed the government for prioritising the early learning and basic education sector, leaving out the university sector.

"The government places more importance on basic education at the expense of university education," Kioni said.

Despite the implementation of 100 per cent transition, the VCs said infrastructure at university has remained unchanged.

The VCs also called for an end to what was termed micro-management by the Commission for University Education.

"Universities face hostile political environments that hamper their management," he added.

CUE mandate entails regulating and accrediting universities and universities' academic programmes, among other functions.



-Edited by SKanyara

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