Ministry drafts rules for appointment of VCs

Fred Matiang'i, the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, at Safari Park Hotel and Casino in Nairobi on September 9, 2016. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Draft rules will be presented to top university officials at a meeting in Nairobi on Tuesday.
  • Fred Matiang’i, the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, will spell out functions of chairmen of councils and chancellors.

Rules have been drafted to tighten and standardise the appointment of university vice-chancellors and their deputies.

This comes days after some elected leaders in the Rift Valley stormed Moi University in Eldoret and attempted to stop an “outsider” from acting as vice-chancellor, the Nation has learnt.

The plan by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology will ensure the hiring of university officials cannot be manipulated to fit favoured candidates. These include proposals that only full professors and distinguished administrators can be appointed to the positions.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and his Elgeyo Marakwet counterpart Alex Tolgos protested against the appointment of Prof Laban Ayiro as acting vice-chancellor, after Prof Richard Mibey retired.

In the past, associate professors or those with less qualifications could be appointed. The proposed regulations apply to vice-chancellors, their deputies and principals in public and private universities.

Previously each university council would set up qualifications and criteria for appointment.

The draft rules will be presented to top university officials at a meeting at Jogoo House in Nairobi on Tuesday. Fred Matiang’i, the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, will spell out functions of chairmen of councils and chancellors.

Vice-chancellors, deputies and principals will be appointed by the Cabinet Secretary on university councils’ recommendations.

Those to be appointed must have at least seven years of administrative, academic and research experience at a senior level and possess leadership skills in an academic and or research institution.

UNIVERSITY LEADERSHIP

Some university administrators with less experience have had their way into university leadership, especially upcoming institutions.

They must show leadership and management prowess, including knowledge of public financial management and strategic people management. They should also be accomplished scholars with proven track record in formulating and managing academics and supervising and mentoring masters’ and doctorate students.

“It has become imperative to develop uniform and binding regulations to guide the creation of peer learning forums, re-appointment and disciplinary procedures,” says Dr Matiang’i in the draft adocument.

The Education CS has the power to reject any candidate recommended by the council if he feels the right procedure was not followed and the candidate is unqualified.

The regulations also state that where a serving vice-chancellor, deputy vice-chancellor or principal wishes to be re-appointed, he or she will indicate interest by writing to the university council at least six months before the expiry of the term.

“The university council shall evaluate the performance of an applicant and make a report, recommending either a renewal or termination of the contract to the education cabinet secretary,” the draft document says.

And, in the event that the university council does not recommend renewal of the contract, the officer will proceed on terminal leave to pave the way for the appointment of a new officer.

ACTING VICE-CHANCELLOR

The university council will recommend to the CS the appointment of an acting vice-chancellor, acting deputy vice-chancellor, acting principal, responsible in a caretaker position.

“The position of vice-chancellor and the deputy or principal would only be declared vacant when the university has no intention of renewing the appointment of the incumbent or the incumbent has served a second and final term,” say the proposed guidelines.

At the moment, serving vice-chancellors, deputies and principals continue to serve in their positions until another candidate is recruited even if they are among the candidates.

On the appointment of the university councils, the regulations state that the Cabinet Secretary will appoint the chair and the independent members of public universities openly and competitively.

In making appointments to the councils, the CS will be guided by the need for gender, regional, and balance of skills.

“On the running of respective universities, the councils shall have an agency relationship with the Cabinet Secretary,” say the draft rules. At the moment, university council chairmen don’t require competitive recruitment.

The proposals also set out the grounds in which a serving vice- chancellor, deputy vice-chancellor or principal can be removed from office. These include serious violation of the Constitution, gross misconduct, physical or mental incapacity, incompetence and bankruptcy.

“The officer may be suspended from the university council in consultation with the cabinet secretary,” adds the draft document.

The council will be required to inform the accused of the reasons for the intended removal; and will be given an opportunity to put in a defence to the council, against any such allegations.

The proposed rules also provide for the creation of the Chancellors’ Forum, which will meet at least twice a year. Each vice-chancellor will be required to submit a “state of the university” report to the respective chancellor.

In the appointment of the vice-chancellors, the regulations state that the Education CS will decline to accept a recommendation by the council where the procedure is irregular, illegal, and violates the fair administrative principle.

The CS will also exercise discretion in appointing any one of the three persons to the vacant position(s) taking into account the interview scoring sheets, gender considerations and diversity.

Currently, there is a standoff at Moi University where Dr Matiang’i is yet to pick from a list submitted to him by the council, prompting the appointment of Prof Ayiro as acting VC last week.

Local leaders are pushing for Dr Matiang’i to pick a substantive VC from the council’s list in the belief that a Kalenjin would have been ranked first.

In the document, Dr Matiang’i says strict observance of the proposed guidelines will bring about stability in the governance, leadership and management of universities in the country.

The Education CS also observes that since 2010, appointment of top university officials has been competitive, leading to improved management of universities.

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