Kenya fails good grades

August 8, 1997

FINANCIAL problems and poor degree choices have resulted in recruitment problems at five state universities in Kenya.

The universities have the capacity to admit 8,500 undergraduates out of an average of 37,000 secondary school students who qualify for admission each year.

But the Joint Admissions Board is warning that the number of students accepted may fall because of problems in securing student loans from the Higher Education Loans Board.

Chacha Nyaigoti-Chacha, secretary to the loans board, said: "We cannot give loans to all students as only 25,000 out of 100,000 beneficiaries of the loan scheme are repaying."

Enrolment has also fallen off because of heavy competition in some programmes that seem to promise better career choices.

Francis Gichaga, vice chancellor of the University of Nairobi, said: "Students prefer medical and engineering courses, even when they are not qualified for them."

Professor Gichaga said this was due to poor job opportunities and poor career options for graduates.

Ratemo Michieka, chairman of the vice chancellors' committee, said: "They feel frustrated when we tell them that they must have good credits in pure sciences, mathematics, and languages to be admitted in technical or biomedical professional courses."

The problems have led to a drop in enrolments at Moi University of 16 per cent from 5,351 students in 1995/96 to 4,469 in 1996/97. In Nairobi, enrolment fell by 12 per cent from 14,089 to 12,313.

There are similar problems at postgraduate level. Unlike in the past, when the government gave full scholarships to postgraduate students in public universities, students now pay tuition fees as well as meet accommodation costs.

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