MPs want varsity courses aligned with market needs to end joblessness – The Star, Kenya

MPs have asked the Commission for University Education to work more with professional bodies to align university courses to markets needs to avoid graduates being stranded while looking for jobs.
The National Assembly’s Education Committee on Friday held a meeting with the Education ministry, and public and private universities to discuss inputs into the Universities (Amendment) Bill 2021 to smoothen the progression of students from the university level to when they join the work force.
Mogotio MP Daniel Tuitoek, who stood in for committee chairperson Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua, said they received interesting proposals from the ministry, CUE and the universities on how best to improve learning in the country.
“We have had  fruitful consultations with the Education ministry, Vice Chancellors Forum and the Private Universities Vice Chancellors Forum and we believe we have made a huge step forward,” Tuitoek said at the PrideInn Flamingo Resort in Mombasa.
Early Learning and Basic Education CAS Sarah Ruto said the journey to improving the management and standards of higher education in the country has been long and treacherous.
“There had been a few issues we had been asked to reconsider and to propose certain areas that would strengthen university education, management and reforms,” Ruto said.
Among the items and suggestions the ministry made to the committee was to strengthen the management of universities.
This, Ruto said, includes having Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service which manages admissions and the Higher Education Loans Board—the funding body, sit together and align their roles and duties.
“We are looking at aligning governance and putting minimum qualifications for people who can serve on governance boards,” Ruto said.
The CAS said they are also reviewing the way the universities grew and whether they were sustainable.
Ruto said there are many proposals that are conciliatory that have been discussed and which pave way for the Universities (Amendment) Bill becoming an act soon.
Tuitoek said professional bodies had made proposals to be involved in the approval of curriculums, a mandate of the CUE.
He said curriculum setting is vested on the various university senates in conjunction with the CUE.
“Currently, the law says approval of programmes is vested on the CUE. The professional bodies participate in the matter through consultation.
“So whenever a curriculum touches on professional bodies they are invited and they are part of the approval team which visits the various universities to assess the standards, whether they have enough staff, enough facilities and the like,” Tuitoek said.
He said the ultimate approval of the curriculum and programmes remains with the CUE.
He however said once the students graduate, various professional bodies can take their various students and further engage with them.
“They have their ways of dealing with them. For example, lawyers, for them to be admitted to the bar, they must go through the School of Law for a year. Same thing as medical students,” Tuitoek said.
“Those are the things we are saying we want to be quite smooth. There should be a clear responsibility for each body.
“Universities have their responsibilities, CUE has its responsibilities and professional bodies have their responsibilities. They should not be in conflict.” 
The Mogotio MP said these are the things they want to smoothen and once they are done, then Kenya’s higher learning standards will improve and even attract more students from around the globe.
“We want to make sure when these universities admit students, they have a clear way of progressing until completion and joining the workforce,” Tuitoek said.
He said they are looking at avoiding scenarios like in 2020 where engineering students who graduated from the Technical University of Kenya, Technical University of Mombasa, and other universities could not secure jobs with engineering degrees awarded by the universities as they were not recognised by the Engineers Board of Kenya.
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