Senior administrators at Egerton University’s Njoro campus had to supervise supplementary exams after hundreds of lecturers boycotted work to demand a salary increase.
Security around the examination centre was reinforced after angry workers assembled outside.
Armed police officers used teargas to disperse the workers, who regrouped outside the administration block and condemned the management for using police to oversee examinations.
Egerton Uasu chapter secretary Grace Kibue said lecturers are perturbed by the decision to administer the exams under tight security.
"This is tantamount to adding insult to injury. The management wants to show us they can easily do away with lecturers and replace us with administrators who can work under tight security,” Dr Kibue said.
“This is disturbing and lecturers have not taken it lightly as the students they have taught have been subjected to tests supervised by people who they don't know in an environment that can be stressful."
She said lecturers will continue to fight for their rights and "threats and intimidation will not stop us from agitating for our rights".
"We train people to think freely, and offer solutions to the problems affecting the community but it is sad we cannot solve our problem as a university but instead we have only multiplied our problems," she said.
Kusu branch secretary Ernest Wayaya said Egerton administrators had ignored a court order on their salaries.
"Sadly, those who have been appointed by the government to manage the university and ensure the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is implemented have deliberately ignored the court order," she said.
"If we are paid our salaries according to the CBA, we shall resume work without any further delay but if the management continues playing mind games we shall continue demanding our rights."
Kusu branch chairman Kipchumba Ruto said many ills at Egerton are being perpetuated by administrators.
"We are shocked that examinations in Egerton University are supervised and invigilated by policemen. The quality of those examinations are likely to be compromised," Mr Ruto said.
Uasu chapter chairman Prof Mwaniki Ngari said it was only at Egerton that management "thinks professors can be substituted with constables to supervise and invigilate exams and we take that with the contempt it deserves".
"We call upon Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha to rein in a rogue employer and administration that is hell-bent to frustrate workers by not paying them their salaries and pension," he said.
Responding to the criticism, the vice-chancellor, Prof Isaac Ongubo Kibwage, said the examinations went on smoothly and were administered by the chairpersons of university departments despite attempts by workers to disrupt the examinations.
"The workers were stopped by policemen to enter the examination centre to avoid a clash between students and lecturers," Prof Kibwage said.