University Students Taking Diploma, Certificate Courses To Transfer to TVET
Universities may experience yet another blow if the reforms team’s recommendation to restrict the institutions to only provide degree-granting courses is put into practise.
Our team has learned that the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms plans to forbid all universities from providing diploma and certificate programmes.
Some task committee members contend that all certificate and diploma programmes fall under higher education, while others believe otherwise.
Additionally, these disciplines can be taught at both universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. According to a senior taskforce member, it is real that these TVETs cannot teach degree-level courses.
Others responded by saying that most universities include middle colleges, which are part of the TVET section.
According to education stakeholders present in a validation meeting on June 6, 2023 at the Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMSATEA), a proposal to “limit universities from offering certificates and diploma courses” was floated.
If accepted, this proposal would introduce a revision to Section 20 (1) (e) of the Universities Act.
Additionally, middle level colleges will only be permitted to teach and award these levels of academic credentials if both the president and Parliament concur.
In 2015 and 2021, two court cases addressed the question of whether universities should be allowed to provide certificate and diploma programmes. That debate is reopened by the plan.
Initial attempts to stop the change were made in 2015 by the Kenya National Association of Private Colleges (Kenapco), but they were unsuccessful in the High Court, opening the way for institutions to grant the degrees.
They are the organisations permitted by the Technical and Vocational Training Authority (Tiveta) Act to provide diplomas, certificates, and bridging courses, according to a petition submitted by Kenapco to the High Court.
Section 20 (1) (e) of the University Amendment Act of 2014 states that diploma and certificate programmes may be offered by any university.
Under the revised statute, all public and private universities were allowed to accept students for degrees, including postgraduate degrees and “other academic certificates.”
The institutions were also allowed to admit students to degree programmes, including postgraduate and honorary degrees.
These changes to the Universities Act of 2012 were made in an effort to clarify specific provisions of the Charter.
Before, only Section 20 of the Universities Act gave universities the authority to award degrees, including honorary degrees.
In their lawsuit, Kenapco claimed that universities, which are overseen by the Ministry of Education and the Commission of University Education (CUE), had violated their rights by offering illegitimate courses that were presented as certificates, diplomas, and bridging courses.
The National Association of Private Universities of Kenya (Napuk) was the target of an injunction in the legal dispute.
The idea to restrict universities to only offering undergraduate and graduate degree programmes was supported by Jacob Kaimenyi, who was the cabinet secretary for education at the time. He argued that middle level institutions should continue to offer certificates and diploma programmes.
The organisation argued in court documents that the Universities Act of 2012, which was revised by the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act No. 18 of 2014, infringed their rights.
According to Kenapco, the amendments were adopted and signed into law without any consultation or involvement from stakeholders.
In particular, they argued that “the amendment to section 20 (1) (e) as it was enacted without proper public participation by the people of Kenya, including the petitioner…,”
In their requests, the petitioner requested a prohibition on universities marketing, advertising, promoting, and/or awarding diplomas, certificates, and bridge courses.
Justice Lenaola dismissed the case brought by Kenapco, a lobbying organisation with more than 200 member institutions in the Republic of Kenya.
CUE, which supported the Kenapco lawsuit, asserted that the 2014 law compromised its ability to continue serving as the body responsible for regulating higher education.
Without consulting the public or other relevant stakeholders and in spite of the Speaker’s ruling to the contrary, the amendments were presented on the floor of the National Assembly and enacted immediately, according to CUE.
Additionally, CUE argued that the amendment discriminated against colleges while favouring universities, harming the commercial sustainability of colleges by denying them the right to fair competition.
The amendments gave universities the authority to directly offer diploma and certificate programmes, which are and should be the purview of Technical and Vocational Training Colleges, according to CUE. This put the Technical and Vocational Training Authority Act and the Universities Act directly at odds with one another.
The conversation didn’t end there, though. among 2018, the authorities frantically worked to quell the rising unrest among campuses.
Just three years had gone since Justice Lenaola’s ruling.
The issue of whether or not higher education institutions should offer certificate and diploma programmes was hotly debated at the time.
At a high-level meeting scheduled in September 2018, it was discovered that the statute’s section 20 (1) (e) mandates that universities teach certificates and diplomas.
Senior officials from the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) attended the conference.
Additionally present were representatives from Kenya Universities and Colleges Placement Service (KUCCPS) and the Curriculum Development, Assessment and Certification Council.
It was later discovered that the third attempt to deprive universities of their power was motivated by claims that the credentials offered by some schools were not uniform.
In reality, it turned out that only a few hours had been spent on academic study by some graduates.
Kevit Desai, the Principal Secretary of the State Department of Vocational and Technical Education (TVET) at the time, declared that the government had no plans to stop colleges from giving certificates and diplomas.
The law allows universities to teach diplomas. But we insist that they are accredited by the Technical Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA), added Desai.
Desai contends that the programmes must be governed by the proper authorities in order for them to comply with the standards established by the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA).
Despite the government’s assurances, a second lawsuit was launched in 2021 requesting that Act 8 of 2014, the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment), be ruled unlawful.
The Robinson Kioko action was rejected by the High Court of Nairobi, which would have stopped universities from awarding certificates and diplomas.
The demand for a technical workforce in the country, according to Kioko’s court pleadings, is not addressed by opening universities to offer courses that should be taught in technical colleges and institutes.
The law is precise regarding the requirements each student must meet in order to enrol in certificate programmes and beyond, as well as the number of hours they must have studied, according to Justice James Makau’s decision.
The judge argues that the law does not provide educational institutions the ability to award degrees or even authorise advancement to the next level without the required requirements and specified time for each course.
Justice Makau stated that “this is not intended for all intents and purposes and intention to be used to permit Universities in Kenya to offer Bridging, or Certificate, or Diploma and Certificates courses contrary to clear provisions; of University Act on the legibility of a student to be admitted for undergraduate, or post graduate diploma, masters, and Doctorate Programmes.”
According to him, universities are not in any manner permitted by the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2014 to provide certificates that would allow students to be admitted to the university.
Cabinet Secretary for Education Prof. George Maghoha pleaded with the court to reject the case on the basis that Justice Isaac Lenaola, who is now a Supreme Court justice, had also made a ruling on it in 2017.
University Students Taking Diploma, Certificate Courses To Transfer to TVET