Maasai Mara University Charter, Kenya’s recently established Commission for University Education hit the ground running, awarding charters to more than 20 public and private universities as required by the law in the weeks after it got up and running earlier this year.
The commission accredited 11 new public universities that were previously constituent colleges of established universities, bringing to 18 the number of public universities in Kenya.
Top among the newly promoted and named former colleges are Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology and Maasai Mara University. Others include the universities of Chuka, Eldoret, Kisii, Laikipia and Pwani, and the Technical University of Kenya.
The Commission for University Education, or CUE, also granted charters to 14 private universities mainly run by churches, which have over the years served to greatly ease the burden on public higher education institutions.
Among the beneficiaries were United States International University, Daystar University and Catholic University, all of which have proved popular with parents and employers, and new entrants Africa International University and the Kenya Highlands Evangelical University.
Also certified by CUE were the Strathmore, Kenya Methodist, Mount Kenya, Nazarene, Catholic, University of Eastern Africa, Scotts Theological, Kabarak and St Paul’s universities – the latter two owned by former president Daniel Arap Moi and the Anglican Church respectively.
The commission, which was established late last year after the passing of the Universities Act 2012 and replaced the Commission for Higher Education, was mandated to issue new charters to all universities, including those already accredited by its predecessor.
The 19-member body is led by Professor Ezra Maritim as chair, and recently recruited Professor David Some, former vice-chancellor of Moi University, as its secretary. Its work got fully under way this year.
CUE was also mandated to issue charters to new institutional applicants, including the former constituent colleges, after they satisfied elaborate conditions set out by the Universities Act.
Under the law, once CUE is satisfied that basic conditions for becoming a university have been met, it issues a letter of interim authority lasting no less than four years.
Once an institution meets the conditions set out in the act, the interim authority is revoked and a charter is granted, subject to approval by the minister in charge of higher education, who acts strictly on the advice of CUE.
Among the institutions CUE has issued with letters of interim authority are Riara, Inoorero, Aga Khan, Gretsa, Pioneer International and Adventist universities.
Also in this category are the Management University of Africa, owned by the Kenya Institute of Management, KCA University founded by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Presbyterian University of East Africa and Kiriri Women’s University of Science and Technology.
The universities will help absorb the more than 123,000 pupils who graduated from high schools across Kenya last year and attained C+ scores in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations, the results of which were released early in March.
Aside from accrediting universities, CUE played an important role in verifying the degree certificates of people seeking public office in Kenya’s March election.
It barred some candidates from running, after they presented papers from unrecognised or unaccredited foreign universities – earning praise from the public for protecting the credibility of qualifications.