Three Kenyan universities face closure

By BD

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Three Kenyan private universities face closure after the higher education regulator recommended that one be shut down with two others given a year to comply.

The Commission for University Education (CUE) has recommended the revocation of the letter of interim authority issued to Presbyterian University of East Africa (PUEA).

The regulator has also recommended a forensic financial audit of Kenya Methodist University (KeMU) and Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in a report to acting education cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i dated January 22.

The agency proposed that CUEA and KeMU be given a year to restructure their operations and get a sound financial footing failure to which their charters should be revoked.

Cash flow problems

The fate of Presbyterian University of East Africa, which received its letter of interim authority in 2007 now hangs in the hands of Dr Matiang’i.

Besides struggling with cash flow problems, the regulator flagged the university due to poor facilities and inadequate teaching staff.

If Dr Matiang’i approves the recommendation and gazettes it, the Presbyterian University will start winding up its activities.

However, the CUE will have a responsibility to ensure that students at the university complete their studies or are transferred to other institutions.

The commission also urged that Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service should stop placing government-sponsored students in the three universities.

Conflict of interest

The report which was compiled last year pointed out a conflict of interest between the church and the universities and gave them three months to address the issue.

“KeMU whose workforce, both academic and administrative, reported being intimidated and having no promotion and no voice because they were not unionised,” states the report which wants the issues addressed in three months.

It adds: “That CUEA, PUEA and KeMU stop engaging the service of consultants particularly in the governance of the institutions.

“The consultants reflect a creation of a new governance organ that has no legal basis and whose costs are sinking the institutions into further debts.

“Further, KeMU was advised by its consultant to take a loan of Ksh6 billion ($58.5 million) from a funding company in China but from its financial status, as observed in the inspection, showed it cannot manage to pay back the loan.”

Kenya has 31 public universities, 18 private chartered universities and 14 universities with letters of interim authority.