State to develop database on universities

 Strathmore University students at the institution before Covid-19 struck.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The database will comprise student enrolment by gender, year and region as well as progression from admission to graduation.
  • The database will contain information on faculty by gender and qualifications, experience, research projects and patents.

The government has embarked on a massive project to develop comprehensive data and information on universities.

It will be the first time Kenya will have an integrated and reliable data on the status of universities in the country.

The database will comprise student enrolment by gender, year and region as well as progression from admission to graduation.

Training of postgraduate students – a core component of universities, including the level of supervision and completion rates – will be included in the datasets.

The database will contain information on faculty by gender and qualifications, experience, research projects and patents.

In addition, the project will capture data on infrastructure like teaching and learning facilities, as well as accommodation.

Another critical area of focus will be funding. Universities are primarily funded by the national exchequer though the amounts have been declining every year.

Revenue sources

The institutions have therefore been pushed to pursue other revenue sources, including module II programmes and research grants.

Past practice is that such incomes are never captured in their financial reports.

Commission for University Education (CUE) chief executive Mwenda Ntarangwi said the project will be launched across the 75 public and private universities next month.

“The commission will put the data on a web portal, which will be a one-stop shop for anyone seeking information on university education in Kenya,” Prof Ntarangwi said at the commission headquarters.

He was accompanied by acting Deputy Commission Secretary Jackson Too.

Apart from developing the database, the commission is digitising the accreditation of universities and review of academic programmes.

The processes are usually done manually. Universities are required to prepare huge reports about their academic and other programmes, which are in turn sent to technical reviewers.

New programmes

Two issues have been of concern. The manual process is costly as it includes flying in experts to review the programmes and curriculum.

Secondly, process is slow, partly explaining why it takes long to set up a university or for existing institutions to introduce new programmes.

“Creating a digital process of accrediting universities will shorten the period, reduce costs and enhance growth,” Prof Ntarangwi added.

It takes two to three years to approve a programme at a university because of the manual process.

By the time the course is rolled out, it could be already time-barred.

In an ICT age and when learning content changes rapidly, a lag in launching a course is costly.

The journey to develop the database and digitise accreditation started two years ago.

The commission started by training senior university staff – at least three from every institution – in data collection and management. More than 200 staff, including deputy vice-chancellors in charge of academics, have been trained.

daduda@ke.nationmedia.com