Lecturers have moved to the High Court to overturn the proposed governance reforms at the University of Nairobi.
The Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) wants the court to issue a permanent injunction stopping the institution from implementing the reforms announced on July 14.
Vice-chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama and university council chair Prof Julia Ojiambo had initiated the changes meant to eliminate duplication of functions and improve efficiency.
Through lawyer Titus Koceyo, Uasu has petitioned the Employment and Labour Relations court to declare that Prof Kiama and the council violated the constitution. The union has also named Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha, the Public Service Commission (PSC), Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki and Commission for University Education (CUE) as interested parties.
Uasu accuses Prof Kiama of pushing for a new model that drastically and fundamentally alters the established and legal structures of the institution by abolishing colleges, schools, institutes, faculties, courses, positions and offices created by the Universities Act No. 42 of 2012.
The union says the VC planned to abolish the School of Pharmacy, Nursing, Medicine, Dentistry and Economics and “unilaterally”, merge institutes and departments. Further, Uasu says the VC has taken away the teaching and training roles from the Institute of Development Studies, leaving the PhD and master’s students with nowhere to go. They also accuse him of abolishing courses without due regard to ongoing studies.
“That the principals, directors, deans of abolished colleges, institutes and faculties have been relieved of their positions, yet they have current unexpired terms of contract. The members of the affected colleges, institutes and faculties are equally staring at job losses,” states the union.
Uasu says the university ought to have involved the union, the students’ association, the Education ministry, PSC and CUE in coming up with the reforms.
It alleges that the council wilfully failed to give policy guidance to the VC, so much so that the intended reforms have no policy framework nor transitional guidelines from the current structure.
The union argues that the ministry has the overall control of policies on public education and has not given any input nor concurrence to the actions and decisions taken by the VC.
Last week, Prof Magoha stopped any reforms from being implemented in universities and colleges without his approval, saying they are expected to make changes in accordance with the established structures.
“Proposed reviews that necessitate abolishing or establishing positions in the governance and administrative structures of a public university or constituent college, especially those not envisaged in the Universities Act, 2012, must comply with the necessary legal framework governing such changes,” the CS stated.