University degree programmes can only be accredited by CUE
University degree programmes can only be accredited by CUE. If the recommendations of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms are approved, professional organizations in the nation will lose their authority to accredit degree programs at universities.
The statutes allowing professional bodies the authority to accredit university courses relevant to their profession will be removed under the proposed amendments, and that authority will instead be granted to the Commission for University Education (CUE).
Academic programs in the nation’s institutions can only be approved, sanctioned, or revoked by the CUE, not by any professional organization. The proposal states, in part, “Amend the Universities Act to provide that no professional body shall charge any university fee for accreditation of academic programs.”
There are 27 professional organizations and groups operating in the nation that control the education and behavior of their members.
In practice, professional organizations like the Council of Legal Education (CLE) and the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK) won’t have any influence on what is taught in universities.
Should the proposal be accepted, it will put an end to a long-running conflict between the CUE and professional groups about who has the right to accredit different university courses.
The modifications are in accordance with a High Court decision from 2020 that gave the CUE control over accreditation. According to the proposal, “there is an urgent need to amend the respective professional bodies’ Acts to bring them into compliance with the court decision and prevent multiple payments by regulations of universities.”
The Engineers Board of Kenya v. the Attorney General, Council for Legal Education v. the Attorney General, and Kenya Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists Board and Others v. the Attorney General all occurred in 2017.
The professional organisations argued that the Act had significant ramifications for their responsibility to oversee academic programs in universities when they challenged it in court. The cases were combined into one, and on June 11, 2020, a decision was made. Appeal Court Judges Mohammed Warsame, Daniel Musinga, and Fatuma Sichale determined that, after consulting with various colleges, CUE is the only entity with the authority to set criteria and accredit programs.
“We see no justification for suspending the commission’s authority under the Universities Act to oversee and approve courses. The justices concluded that the application submitted by the professional organisations is without merit.
The reforms team emphasizes the necessity to alter any laws that clash with the court’s ruling and grant CUE the full accrediting mandate in order to bring the law into compliance with the ruling.
The legal system permits CUE and professional organizations to control academic programs in Kenya. Due to this, there are now conflicts between the regulatory responsibilities of the many organizations that oversee university academic programs.
This made it difficult for colleges to accredit their professional academic programs. When certain colleges did not meet their requirements, several professional bodies in the past refused to recognize the degrees earned by students from those institutions.
For instance, the Engineering Board of Kenya published a list of universities in 2020 that it acknowledges as engineering training institutions.
Despite having engineering programs, this does not include the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Meru University, South Eastern Kenya University, Technical University of Kenya, or the University of Eldoret.
Egerton, Kenyatta, and Masinde Muliro universities’ engineering degrees were not recognized in 2011 by the Engineers Registration Board. Law graduates from some public and private universities have suffered a similar fate when the Council of Legal Education rejected their papers.
The engineering and legal organizations claimed that their decisions were made mostly due to the universities’ poor curricula, lack of qualified lecturers or duplicate courses, and general lack of a professional emphasis. Universities are annoyed by this.
In addition, the professional bodies claimed that certain institutions had rushed to satisfy the increased demand for degrees while breaking accrediting standards and without the necessary resources to handle the increase in enrollment.
A portion of the University Act that allowed professional organizations to participate in the accreditation of academic programs will be completely eliminated as a result of the proposed modifications.
According to Section 5A (3), CUE may consult with any relevant organization established by written law to regulate a profession to which the academic programme relates before approving any academic program.
The proposal also aims to get rid of regulations granting professional organizations control over university academic programs. The Engineers Act, the Medical Laboratories Technicians and Technologists Act, the Legal Education Act, and the Advocates Act are among the laws that need to be modified.
The Media Act, the Nutritionists and Dieticians Act, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act, and the Veterinary Surgeons and Veterinary Para-professional Act are additional.
If implemented, the reforms will provide universities with a break from the professional bodies’ “bullish” behavior in trying to regulate how students are trained in their profession.
Vice-chancellors have expressed concern in the past about the sums that institutions spend on program accreditation and have identified the fees as one of the costs contributing to their financial difficulties.
The Vice Chancellors Committee brought up a number of issues that were impeding the easy accreditation of some academic programs at the university in 2020 during a presentation to the National Assembly Education Committee, including strict requirements set by various professional bodies.
The vice chancellors included the sum that the schools had to pay for permission to set up and keep offering particular academic programs in their presentation. 27 professional organizations and organisations oversee the education and behavior of their members.
They consist of the Kenya Veterinary Board, Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Board, Kenya Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Kenya Institution of Surveyors, Kenya Media Council, Kenya Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and Kenya Law Society.
Other organizations include the Kenya Association of Technical Training Institutions, CLE, EBK, Pharmacy and Poisons Board, Nursing Council of Kenya, Clinical Officers Council, Institute of Human Resource Management Kenya, and Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Kenya Branch. Some professional associations have demanded that the colleges pay the program accreditation fee despite the court’s decision.
Vice-chancellors were advised not to involve other professional groups in the approval of university courses by CUE in 2022. The CEO of the commission, Mwenda Ntarangwi, warned that if universities continued to consult with other organizations about programs they had been authorized or approved without consulting the commission first, CUE would be obliged to remove those programs.
On a sadder note, despite the court’s ruling, several professional bodies still work with colleges while paying little, if any, attention to the commission. In a letter forwarded to vice chancellors of universities and college presidents and principals, Ntarangwi stated that this was not only disrespectful but also showed a disregard for the sub-sector regulator.