Sort out mess in recognition of foreign PhDs

PhD graduand

Maseno University board member Edwins Mukabana confers a degree to a PhD graduand during the institution's 20th graduation ceremony on April 30, 2021.
 

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The Commission for University Education (CUE) and the Kenya National Qualifications Agency both claim the right to equate academic qualifications from foreign universities.
  • My colleague’s experience indicates that there is a missing link between legislation and how this is implemented. 

One of the functions of the Commission for University Education (CUE) is the recognition and equation of qualifications. At the Kenya National Qualifications Agency, their services range from equation of qualifications, registration of qualifications to issuance of certificate of certification equivalence and accreditation.

Interestingly, both bodies claim the right to equate academic qualifications from foreign universities. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Sample this: A colleague returned from abroad with a PhD and joined a new university as a lecturer. The human resource office demanded a letter equating his papers to local PhDs.

The KNQA website stated that it equated degrees obtained from other countries, so he applied and paid the specified fees. In a few weeks, he got an e-mail asking him to download his certificates, which he did. To his disappointment, his equated certificate was rejected. Instead, the human resource office demanded one from CUE.

He visited the commission hoping to obtain one without another payment. After explaining his experience, the commission claimed KNQA lacks authority to equate certificates from foreign universities. He was asked to either pay Sh6,000 for one within two days, or Sh10,000 for instant service. This time, his certificate was accepted.

How do we explain this scenario? A lazy legislature that creates bodies with overlapping functions or a parent ministry that, inadvertently, makes mistakes in allocating functions? Is it cartels creating bodies for selfish gains or a Cabinet secretary who has not asked universities and other public bodies to accept equation of foreign academic certificates equated by either CUE or KNQA? 

My colleague’s experience indicates that there is a missing link between legislation and how this is implemented. Secondly, there might be poor audit of our public service. Thirdly, the public is losing money in services offered by two competing bodies. I hope the Cabinet secretary, or any other person responsible, will sort out this mess to spare the public confusion, loss of cash, and avoid embarrassing a government paid to provide services.

Dr Mose is a post-doctoral Fellow with Rhodes University, South Africa. [email protected]

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