Experts query CUE vetting of varsity courses

Kenya’s professional regulatory bodies are up in arms over a proposal that would lock them out of accrediting university courses, saying the higher education regulator lacks the capacity to certify technical programmes.

The professional associations are opposed to a Cabinet-backed Bill which solely bestows the responsibility of sanctioning degree courses to the Commission for University Education (CUE).

The proposed law seeks to end Kenya’s hybrid accreditation system where both CUE and professional bodies can regulate the teaching of programmes at tertiary level.

The Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board, which regulates the practice of medicine and dentistry in Kenya, said CUE is incapable of approving course content, facilities and core curriculum used in training doctors.

“This amendment cannot go on unchallenged because CUE does not have the capacity to assess, register and regulate the professionals,” said Daniel Yumbya, chief executive of the board in an interview with Business Daily.

The board has approved 11 universities to offer medical and dental courses in Kenya.

Mr Yumbya said the board has partnered with its peers from the East African Community to offer reciprocal recognition of medical courses. He said a fresh inspection of Kenyan medical schools is set for mid-January 2016 after auditing of Uganda due to kick off next month.

READ: Varsities regulator set to have final word on courses quality

The Council of Legal Education, the regulator of law programmes, said the proposed amendments, if adopted, will lower the quality of teaching professional courses.

“When did CUE last carry out an audit? They want powers that they can’t carry out. It is ridiculous. We are going to ruin professions,” said the council’s chief executive Wanyama Kulundu-Bitonye.

Prof Kulundu-Bitonye threatened legal action if the Bill is passed into law. The Public Health Officers and Technicians Council, which oversees training of public health professionals, said it is also opposed to the planned amendment.

“We have raised our objections. These courses are technical and need the input of professional bodies,” said Samuel Muthinji, the vice-chairman at the public health body.

CUE boss David Some defended the proposed law, saying it is borrowed from the European model where university senates are exclusively empowered to decide which courses to offer.

“Let market forces decide. If a university offers poor courses, then its graduates won’t get jobs in the market,” he said. Prof Some said the agency uses peer-reviewers, who are senior lecturers, to audit university programmes. Kenya has 17 professional bodies.