In Kenya, the Commission for University Education (CUE) specifies a mean grade of C+ as the minimum direct-entry requirement for university degree programs. Any candidate gets that average grade is also eligible for government financing.
Prior to 2016, the Kenya Universities and Colleges Placement Service (KUCCPS) and its predecessor, the Joint Admissions Board (JAB), placed students at public universities who received a mean grade of B (plain), with cases of B (minus) being accepted in affirmative action.
This put the C+ and B (minus) students who had been denied university entrance at a disadvantage. Universities were able to recruit self-sponsored students from this large pool of pupils. This put individuals who had qualified but couldn’t pay the fees set aside for self-sponsored students at a disadvantage.
Only 88,929 students scored an A (plain) to C+ in 2016, compared to 165,766 and 149, 717 candidates who scored a C+ or higher in 2015 and 2014, respectively. After then, Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i announced that all students with grades ranging from A (plain) to C+ will be accepted into universities.
As a result, institutions were unable to attract self-sponsored students, who contributed much-needed finances to complement government funding. In addition, the number of students eligible for university entrance has decreased.
In 2018, KUCCPS permitted students who had previously taken the KCSE to apply for placement in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges. Students were encouraged to apply to national polytechnics, technical training institutes, and other TVET institutions to pursue diploma or certificate programs of their choice. This was welcome news, as students placed through KUCCPS were certain to receive government financial assistance.
The action by KUCCPS, combined with funding bias towards TVET institutions, has further lowered enrolment in universities, as some students choose to enter TVETs despite receiving a C+ or higher grade.
However, there are students who obtained a C+ average before to 2016 but were unable to continue their education in Kenya owing to a lack of funding or other factors.
“Everyone has the right to education,” according to Article 26 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At least in the early and fundamental stages, education must be free. Basic education will be compulsory.
Technical and professional education must be widely accessible, and higher education must be open to everybody on the basis of merit.” According to the 2016 Economic Survey, there will be seven public constituent university institutions in 2020, up from six in 2019. In 2020, there will be 20 chartered private universities, while the number of universities with Letters of Interim Authority (LIA) will stay at 13.
Other causes for the drop in enrolment that were not recorded in the study included a drop in enrolment in Agriculture and Biological Sciences programs as a result of poor performance in Biology, which is a prerequisite for entrance to such programs.
Universities appear to be able to admit more students than they already do. Students are also placed and funded at private universities by the government.
As a result, the government should use KUCCPS to place students who took the KCSE in prior years in TVET colleges. This would ensure that “all people have equitable access to higher education based on merit.”
It should also explore giving university spaces to students who received a C+ to B (simple) average before 2016. This would not only ensure that institutions run at full capacity and receive extra funding, but it would also put the 100% transition policy into action.