Star performers in KCSE miss top university courses

A majority of candidates who scored grade ‘A’ in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination in 2014 failed to get their first course choices following admission to public universities.

Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS), the body charged with admitting students to public universities, says it increased entry points for popular courses like medicine, architecture, engineering, computer science, and actuarial science.

The rise came after candidates scored high grades in the national exams given the total number of those who scored A and A– was 14,841, compared to 12,481 the previous year.

Some 3,073 candidates scored straight As in the exam, up from 2,722 in 2013. But the popular courses including medical, architecture, engineering, computer science, and actuarial science admitted 2, 970 students.

“We offered the chances on merit. Top performers definitely were given priority for the courses they had chosen,” KUCCPS chief executive officer John Muraguri said while revealing that about a third or 20, 000 candidates failed to get their first course choices.

For example, only 28 students have been selected to purse dental surgery, medicine (320), pharmacy (131), architecture (143) and 606 will take computer science.

This is a drop in the ocean, considering the high number of students seeking these in-demand courses on the hope of landing a job in the saturated job market.

Liberal Arts and Environmental courses were least preferred because candidates felt they offered fewer openings in the job market.

Bachelor of Arts courses proved to be the most unpopular and had more than 3,000 unfilled capacities.

READ: 20000 miss out on preferred varsity courses

Statistics from KUCCPS indicate that 67, 790 students will join public universities from September compared to 57,250 last year.

Last year, 149,717 students attained the minimum university entry mark of C+ or better, a 27.5 per cent increase from 123,365 in 2013.

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology had the highest number of unfilled capacities at 1,644 followed by Moi University (1,447) and University of Nairobi with 1,154.

The number of students enrolled in public universities grew 25.4 per cent last year to 363, 334, buoyed by the approval of new degree courses and the setting up of new universities.

Varsity students stood at 38, 733 in 2000, nearly a ten-fold growth over the past 15 years, in what is putting pressure on the government to create jobs for the graduates.

The high enrolment is also putting pressure on university facilities at a time the institutions are struggling to raise cash for upgrade.

This came as a huge number snubbed diploma courses in state owned institutions.