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How Kenyan Varsities - degree mills

Updated on February 6, 2016

Not many people may have heard about Colby Nolan, a cat which was awarded an MBA degree in 2004 by the trinity Southern University, a Dallas-based institution. Colby was then a six year old house cat and lived with a deputy attorney general. In a mission to expose rampant fraud in the university, some undercover agents maneuvered to have Colby obtain a bachelor’s degree in business administration for $299.

In the application, the agents claimed the cat had previously take a course at a community college, worked at a fast food restaurant, babysat and maintained a newspaper subscription.

Trinity informed Colby that, due to the job experience listed in his application; he was eligible for an executive MBA for $100 more. The agents then sent for Colby’s transcript, which claimed that he had a Grade point average (GPA) of 3.5.

To sum up the long story, armed with this evidence the Texas attorney general went to court and after a successful application, the court ordered the college assets frozen, fined it $100000 and were ordered never to market or promote fraudulent, substandard degree programs or to represent their university as being accredited or affiliated with legitimate universities.

A similar scenario seems to be happening in Kenya. In the recent past, The Commission for University Education (CUE) has identified a number of campuses, of both public and private university for closure after they failed assessment criteria. This in itself is an outright indictment of the quality of learning in these institutions, something that should worry Kenyans.

CUE inspection forecast on accreditation, quality of teaching and learning facilities, books and other learning resources, caliber of the academic and administrative staff as well as their respective qualifications. These campuses scored poorly in all the parameters.

The commission also looked at the tuition, administrative and residential building of the campuses. Most were locate in unsuitable learning environment such as near bars, lodging, bus parks, markets quarry, dumpsites or factories. The elephant in the room, though, is the questionable degrees and diplomas offered by some of our universities. That week CUE revoked five PhD Degrees awarded by a local university in December 2014 and the degrees of two students in their Master’s Degree programs was more telling. Especially on the explanation that the students’ admissions were highly irregular based on post graduate credit transfer policy that is not provided in those university statutes or in the university standards and guidelines.

Campuses are taking advantage of the growing demand for higher education to amass wealth at the expense of maintaining standards. Cases of students without the pre requisite qualifications getting admitted to study degree and postgraduate programs, never mind those graduating in record time, is a common feature.

By carrying out these evaluations, the commission is trying to create sanity in higher education. When an institution is perceived to be compromising the standards of education it offers, the damage is already done, regardless of whether guilt is manifest. The extent of the damage s realized when graduates of such institutions enter the job market and no company is willing to hire them.

But worrying, pressure is now coming in between CUE’s clarity of vision in enforcing mandate and kowtowing to political machinations. The Ministry of Education hasn’t helped matters, by giving affected compasses a year to comply, when its evident they may not be on time the necessary resources required, is tantamount to feasting in the alter of parochial interestat the expense of the wider common good.

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