Agnes Mercy Wahome

Education CS George Magoha (left) receives results of the 2021/2022 student placement report from KUCCPS boss Agnes Mercy Wahome in Nairobi on August 17.

| Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

New university placement rules favour students

Students joining universities will soon have an easy time choosing courses following a review of placement criteria and entry requirements.

From next year, the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) will place students to courses based on a more flexible criteria that expands study options.

Courses previously classed in clusters have been further categorised into sub-clusters and specific entry requirements clearly spelt out, making it easier for students to choose their preferred programmes. For example, the most demanding programmes in Cluster 13 are those in sub-cluster A.

These are Bachelor of Dental Surgery, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, which require a minimum grade of B plain in the cluster subjects.

However, courses in Sub-Cluster B — which has Bachelor of Pharmacy and Bachelor of Science in Public Health, among others— now require candidates to have a minimum of C+ in the same subjects. KUCCPS presented the “Degree Placement Criteria Document and Report” to universities and other stakeholders in education yesterday.

The new approach has introduced sub-clusters in some of the cluster subjects with slightly different requirements for admission in order to accommodate more students. Previously, students who would not fit in clusters for some fields of study would be completely shut out and forced to enrol in courses they were not interested in.

“We’d rather have as many sub-clusters as possible than have students placed in the wrong programmes,” said Dr Agnes Mercy Wahome, the CEO of KUCCPS. She was speaking at Kenyatta University, Nairobi, during a stakeholder forum to validate the placement criteria to be used in all public and private universities.

Whereas sub-clusters were introduced in some degree programmes, minimum entry requirements for others like Law will remain the same. Additionally, KUCCPS did not change some clusters whose minimum requirements are regulated by professional bodies such as the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

“We adopted their recommendations hook, line and sinker,” explained Dr John Oluoch, the director of placement coordination and career development at KUCCPS. The changes will come into force next year but after being presented before the senates of various universities in order to update the admission requirements. They will also set the cut-off point for specific courses.

Although the minimum entry requirements cut across the board, cut off points differ among universities based on their capacity and the number of qualified applicants.

“This validation forum is a milestone in the journey that started in 2019 when KUCCPS requested universities, professional and regulatory bodies, most of whom are represented here, to submit their views on the minimum requirements for courses,” the principal secretary for University Education and Research Simon Nabukwesi said when he opened the forum.

But University of Embu Deputy Vice-chancellor (Academics, Research and Extension) Kiplagat Kotut questioned the process of coming up with the new criteria.

“This document doesn’t give us a philosophical basis behind the subject clusters and the requirements,” he said. Universities have in the past failed to attract students to some of the courses whereas there is stiff competition for others deemed to offer better career prospects.

There is also duplication of courses which has been blamed for deteriorating quality in some academic fields.

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