The Commission for University Education (CUE) has ordered 10 sub-standard Kenyan universities to close following criticism that the organisation was not being proactive in filtering out Africa’s inadequate providers of higher education.

In recent months, increasing allegations of large-scale cheating in university exams, as well as the existence of rogue colleges and universities has sparked outrage among education professionals who say CUE, a Nairobi-based organisation that provides quality assurance for public institutions in Kenya, has not done enough to combat the issue which could have a long-term detrimental effect on the region’s HE sector as a whole.

CUE has now hit back at the reports, asking a total 10 out of Kisii Univerity’s 13 campuses to shut down. The university is one of Kenya’s fastest growing HE institutions, but the rapid closure of the majority of its campuses means its future is now unstable.

But Kisii University will not be the only one; CUE has launched a colossal audit of all public universities with the hopes of filtering out sub-standard providers to boost the reputation and performance of the region’s HE sector. This comes at a time when sector professionals have voiced concerns that rapidly rising student numbers have compromised the quality of academic provisions coming out of Kenyan universities.

Professor David Some, Chief Executive at CUE, claims the commission has placed more than a dozen university campuses under review, giving the institutions 90 days to address issues raised as part of the review.

“We are going all-out to ensure that all universities and their campuses follow set out guidelines in regard to accreditation of courses, establishment of institutions and setting up of adequate facilities,” said Some.

Though critics are pleased the institution has finally taken action, the announcement of campus closures has triggered outrage among university staff and students, with many threatening to take action against the proposed terminations – but CUE is refusing to back down, using Kisii University and other institutions as examples for a new guaranteed quality of learning within public institutions in Kenya.

The new regulations will take effect this year, and will force the establishment of campuses and satellite centres to meet the minimum standards required in terms of structure and location. Penalties for non-compliance include a US$58,830 fine, three years’ imprisonment or both.

As part of the reforms, foreign institutions will have to submit proof of accreditation from their home countries before they are allowed to offer overseas study options in Kenya. Core courses from local institutions must be declared before teaching begins, and accreditation solely revolves on these core courses.

The commission is also due to oversee quality assurance among all Kenyan public institutions, a role that was previously hindered by various laws and legislations. Not only are universities now expected to expand and progress, they must also provide quality teaching and an environment conducive to learning.

CUE is now the primary body monitoring programmes and accrediting higher education courses in Kenya, hopefully providing a standardised quality for the academic provisions coming out of all public universities in Kenya.

“All institutions of learning must meet the set of basic standards or we close them down,” said Some.

Could this be a much-needed turning point for Kenya’s HE sector?

Additional reporting by University World News.

Image via AP Images.

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