Kenya's Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister called for a crack down on bogus training institutions in an effort to improve the university system and make it more competitive.
During the official opening of the new commission offices in the capital Nairobi recently, the Minister said universities played a pivotal role in providing high level human capital for national development and therefore the government was keen to prioritise the sector.
"There is also the need to acknowledge that the hunger for higher education among Kenyans can be exploited by unscrupulous investors, indeed even dealers. This is especially so at the tertiary level where some institutions of dubious governance and quality proliferate, offering courses that have little useful purpose to our economy," said Kosgei in a speech read on her behalf by Assistant Minister Asman Kamama.
Kosgei lauded the CHE for building a strong infrastructure with the capacity to get rid of investors who were out to deceive Kenyan students with worthless education and certificates.
"However, you must never rest on your laurels. You must continuously seek better and more effective ways of ensuring that Kenyans are well and fully informed and educated about the rapidly changing and increasingly complex higher education sector. This will enable them to make the best choices for their higher education," she added.
CHE Chief Executive Officer Professor Everret Standa assured the public that his organisation had stepped up measures that would not only institutionalise quality assurance tools and processes in Kenya but also those in the East African region.
"The commission has published a handbook on standards and guidelines for quality assurance and this will facilitate universities to self-assess themselves as they strive to offer quality programmes," Standa said.
Acceptable education, according to Kosgei, had to be of high quality, be research-supported, relevant to national development needs, responsive to the country's market demands, gender-sensitive, technologically informed, globally marketable and democratically managed.
She expressed the government's commitment to higher education, saying that since 2005 it had embarked on far-reaching reforms.
"Although through these reforms the government has reaffirmed its commitment to the expansion of access to university education, such expansion must be accompanied by high quality, increased relevance and improved quality," said Kosgei.
She added the government was working to ensure that access to university education expanded sufficiently to correspond to Kenya's development needs.
The country has seven public universities, 12 university colleges and 23 private universities catering for a total of 155,000 students. To ensure that universities continue to be institutions where new knowledge is created and innovative solutions found for local social and economic problems, the government has set aside special funds for research and development.
In another development, Kosgei recently directed the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) to extend its financial support of loans, bursaries and scholarships to Kenyan students enrolled in universities in the East African region as from this year.
HELB Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Cheboi told University World News that a team comprising representatives from his organisation, the Ministry of Higher Education and the Commission for Higher Education would visit universities in the region to establish student numbers, programmes and their levels of training.
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