Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha is going hard on the universities across the country as his ministry has given them two weeks to prepare a list of the institutions to be merged and those to be shut down.
In a meeting held at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, the vice-chancellors were asked to compile a number of academic or non- academic staff to be laid off, the programmes to be merged and campuses to be closed.
The Commission for University Education (CUE) was also asked to submit its report on the merger on July 31, different from the vice-chancellors drafts. Among other issues addressed in the closed-door meeting included pending bills, debts, Sacco remittances pension and taxes.
Prof. Magoha also ruled out any extra funding to the institutions during the meeting saying they will have to use the Sh97 billion allocated to them. However, the vice-chancellors and finance officers of the 31 chartered public universities and seven university colleges in attendance cried out loud over the universities merger, saying it was being undertaken without involving all stakeholders.
The vice-chancellors complained to the education secretary that the new policy was coming from the top and not from universities which ought to have provided “critical mechanism” of the plan, although the University of Nairobi has already identified 20 programmes to be phased out. They also lamented that the government has been talking to itself in the whole process and without thinking about students leaving secondary schools under 100 per cent transition plan will go to.
Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) has joined the bandwagon in debate by opposing the plan for university mergers.
“We need sobriety in this whole process or else we will mess up. We have to involve all stakeholders including politicians,” noted one of the vice-chancellors.
If what Prof. Magoha told the vice chancellors comes to pass, the decision will be a blow to more than 27,000 staff in public universities, with the lecturers adding up to 9,000 of the population.