Scrap useless university courses, President Ruto urges VCs

President William Ruto

President William Ruto and Education CS Ezekiel Machogu during a meeting with the vice-chancellors of public universities and principals of constituent colleges at State House, Nairobi, on May 28, 2024 to evaluate the funding model introduced last year. 

Photo credit: PCS

President William Ruto has directed public universities to do away with programmes that are unattractive to students as he challenged them to identify areas of specialisation.

Dr Ruto said this when he met vice-chancellors and principals of university colleges at State House, Nairobi, yesterday to discuss the status of public universities. He tasked the universities and the State Department of Higher Education to identify the programmes that do not have students, and to consolidate programmes so that the institutions can specialise in their niche areas.

The President said VCs must come up with incentives to attract students to priority programmes that are needed to grow the economy, especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and mining.

The VCs informed the President that the process of rationalising university programmes has begun. This follows the recommendations of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER) report which observed that the expansion of university education has led to them offering similar courses and academic programmes but lacking specialisation.

The PWPER report also recommended an amendment to the Universities Act (2012) by inserting a new Section to provide for merger, conversion and amalgamation of two or more public universities or university colleges. The Ministry of Education has already drafted amendment Bills to effect the recommendations.

Higher education funding

Also in attendance at the meeting were Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu, Principal Secretary for Higher Education Beatrice Inyangala, Chief Executive Officer of the Higher Education Loans Board Charles Ringera and his Universities Fund counterpart Geoffrey Monari.

The meeting also evaluated the higher education funding model which was introduced last year. The model is a combination of scholarships and students’ loans.

Dr Ruto promised to enhance support for the differentiated unit cost from the current 42 per cent to 50 per cent for students who are not under the new model.

Meanwhile, the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) has waded into the governance row that has rocked the University of Nairobi for months.


Officials of the UoN Chapter on Tuesday said the “wrangles have been shameful, disruptive and keep bringing disrepute” to the university.

They called on President Ruto and Mr Machogu to intervene in the conflict between the University Council and Vice-Chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama, saying it is hurting the image of the institution.

“Whereas Uasu does not wish to escalate the already ongoing internecine wrangles, it is our right as a social partner at the university that we call to order all the parties. It is not in the interest of our members that incessant squabbles dominate national headlines,” said the UoN Chapter Secretary Dr Maloba Wekesa.

The union accused the chair of the council, Prof Amukowa Anangwe, of failing to conclude negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement with the lecturers. They also claimed that Prof Anangwe has stopped all internal promotions for staff.

The council has been embroiled in a conflict with Prof Kiama, who they have been sending on leave on a number of times but he has disregarded them.

The VC attended yesterday’s meeting at State House.

The union has also challenged the legality of the council in court.

The High Court in March ruled the Education CS had acted beyond his powers in appointing the council but declined to remove it from office, saying it would affect operations at the university. Uasu has appealed the ruling.