Why Kenya varsities prefer arts to science based courses

Published on 12th May 2017

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Best Courses to study in Kenya are the art based course

Universities across the country prefer arts based courses to sciences due to the revenue they generate, a survey has revealed.

This deals a big blow to the government’s efforts to promote sciences courses for realisation of Vision 2030.

A survey conducted by CPS Research International indicates that public universities have more science programmes than private ones with the number of science courses standing at 69.1 per cent while arts is 30.9 per cent.

The survey revealed that some programmes were less market-driven but were mounted with the expectation of generating revenue for respective institutions.

“Though government capitation and research grants for private universities income is zero per cent and five per cent in that order, they offer 13 per cent of total science and 34.4 per cent of arts,” states the survey that was released on Wednesday in Nairobi.

It revealed that universities with the largest number of science courses are ranked highly.

“There is a strong positive correlation between the number of science courses a university offers, its global ranking and affinity to attract research grants and funding,” states the study.

Already the government has announced that starting July, funding to universities will be based on courses offered with arts courses getting less funding.

Statistics from the Ministry of education indicate that it’s only about 22 per cent of students in universities that are enrolled in science related courses while the rest are in arts.

The survey dubbed ‘state of science training in Kenyan Universities’ — commissioned by Pan African Education Trust — was carried out between February and May this year.

The research was conducted in 68 chartered universities and involved 309 respondents.

University of Nairobi was ranked top among the institutions offering science courses at 282 (14 per cent), followed by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology 242 (12 per cent), Kenyatta University with 152 (7.5 per cent), Egerton University at 6.7 per cent , Maseno University at 5.6 per cent while Mount Kenya University had 64 (3.1 per cent) courses at the 10th position.

University of Nairobi also topped in arts courses with 89 courses, followed by Kenyatta University with 88, Moi University (75) and Mount Kenya University with 30 arts courses.

The survey established that the top five public universities offer 46.1 per cent of science courses while the top five private ones offer 7.2 per cent.

“It’s almost 2 to 5 times harder to find a private university offering a practical science programme such as nursing, engineering or computing,” the survey released by CPS Research International Director Prof Herman Manyora said.

The study shows that many firms would seek consultancy, fund or recruit employees based on the university they studied at and its reputation or ranking.

For instance, University of Nairobi students are perceived to be highly trained since the university is rated highly by various firms making employees seek their graduates.

On, employers’ attitude towards sciences in Kenya, 38 per cent of the 309 respondents believe sciences have more job opportunities while 32 per cent said arts and 30 per cent argues both sciences and arts have more opportunities.

“About 49 per cent think science graduates are properly trained, while 51 per cent disagreed. Most employees believe that the government should invest more in science training through assisting universities via increased funding,” adds the study.

The study has recommended that Universities collaborate by sharing resources, academic programmes and innovative concepts.

Prof Manyora criticised universities for launching similar courses instead of having a specialised area in order to attract and train specialists.

The study also revealed the high tendency by institutions to develop only attractive programmes that attract more students as well.

Increased private sponsored teaching programmes was also blamed for pulling academic staff away from research into teaching alone.

“University lecturers are now like teachers, they do not have time to do research as they are doing teaching throughout the year. This is unacceptable and we have to change this practice,” said Prof Manyora.



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