Universities are in cut-throat competition for students who want to switch from one institution to another just days after the placement agency opened the one-month window.
The universities have placed advertisements in local dailies and TV stations trying to woo students to take their programmes, a departure from the past where students used to plead the institutions to accept them during the transfer period.
The situation has highlighted the universities’ struggles to attract students to their institutions.
Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) Chief Executive Officer John Muraguri has already raised concerns about the new development, saying institutions should allow students to decide on their own which institutions they want to transfer to.
On Friday, the placement agency’s online application system opened for inter-institutional transfer applications.
The one-month window is for the 2017 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination candidates who have already been selected for courses in universities or colleges under government sponsorship and may wish to transfer to other institutions or courses.
The exercise will close on May 31.
“Payment of the transfer application fee should be done after successfully completing the necessary steps in the application process following the instructions provided in the portal,” reads a statement on KUCCPS website.
After completing, downloading and printing the application form, it must be presented to, signed and stamped by the heads of the two concerned institutions (vice-chancellors for universities and principals for colleges) after consenting.
The latest development by higher learning institutions has been occasioned by low student numbers due to massive failures in the KCSE examination for the past two years.
Among the institutions that have already asked the students to join them are Kenyatta University (KU) and Technical University of Kenya (TUK).
“The Technical University of Kenya is pleased to announce that 2017 KCSE candidates that have been placed by KUCCPS in other institutions, but wish to transfer, are invited to apply for available vacancies,” reads an advert from TUK.
The institution is looking for more than 150 students mostly for the engineering department.
KU has asked students who wish to transfer to take advantage of the limited slots and transfer to the institution.
“Applicants are advised to visit KUCCPS website or KU admissions office at the main campus for guidance on the format and procedures for making the application,” reads an advert by the university’s registrar in charge of academics.
Some universities are also banking on certificate and diploma programmes to attract students.
“For a candidate to be allowed to move, he or she must meet the requirement of the clusters,” said Mr Muraguri. He, however, admitted that some institutions are at risk of being left without students.
For instance, Turkana University College only managed to attract four students yet this is way below the 15 students set by the Commission for University Education (CUE) as the minimum number for any given programme.
Last year 606,394 candidates sat the KCSE examination with 69,151 of them scoring a mean grade of C+, the minimum required to join university.
A total of 62,851 were successfully placed in degree courses of their choice while about 5,000 missed out.
University of Nairobi has already indicated that it will not require the services of lecturers and non-teaching staff working on contract as the institution struggles with cash flow hitches, following a drop in private student enrolment and State funding.
Data from KUCCPS indicates that about 544 out of the 1,382 academic programmes admitted less than 10 students in the recent placement exercise.
CUE has since proposed to the government the merging and closing down of some universities through the establishment of a Regional University System which will see most of the existing institutions downgrading to colleges or campuses as opposed to fully-fledged universities.
“This will be similar to the practice in the UK which has the University of London System, the US with California University System and in Rwanda where all universities were merged and placed under an umbrella University of Rwanda system,” stated the proposal that was presented to Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed last week for action.
CUE in its report “Policy advisory on rationalisation of universities and programmes in Kenya” says the creation of these campuses from existing universities will pay attention to national development needs, relative value of existing infrastructure and resources and regional balance.
It stated that with 31 public universities and six constituent colleges boasting a total population of 48.4 million students in 2016, the number of public universities in Kenya exceeds that of South Africa which has only 26 with a total population of 55.9 million as of 2016.
Ghana, on the other hand, has only nine public universities with a total population of 28.2 million students as of 2016.
As of last month, there were 73 universities in Kenya categorised as follows; 31 public chartered universities; six constituent colleges; 18 private chartered universities; five private constituent colleges; and 13 institutions with Letters of Interim Authority.