The university regulator has warned professional bodies to stop threatening students, noting that issues of course accreditation are settled by the courts.
The chairman of the Commission for University Education (CUE), Professor Chacha Nyaigotti-Chacha, has described as “untenable” the decision by professional bodies to undermine court rulings.
He said university students taking various courses should be allowed to study in peace and graduate.
“Let the students study and after they leave the universities, the bodies will make sure that the learners meet the professional requirements before enrolling them,” Professor Chacha said.
He said professional bodies should keep universities away, but noted they will still be consulted when accrediting courses.
“They shouldn’t come to lecture halls. That they wait for students outside the universities. Because we always make sure that all the courses given are of high quality,” said Chacha.
The Universities Act states that the CUE may consult with any competent body to regulate the profession to which the university program relates and engage with professional bodies and associations to carry out inspection of universities on its behalf.
It further says that a person who, without the authorization of CUE, purports to authorize, accredit, recognize, audit, inspect, index students or collect a fee or fee from a university or a student is committing a offense punishable by a fine not exceeding Sh2 million or two years imprisonment.
Chacha said CUE consults and will continue to engage professional bodies when quality assurance of the course prior to accreditation.
“We have spoken to them and will continue to speak to them, so there is no cause for alarm and they should not threaten the students by causing panic,” Chacha said.
He was reacting to comments attributed to the chief executive of the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK), Margaret Ogai, that some of the courses at the universities are not accredited.
Ogai made the comments during his appearance before the National Assembly’s Education Committee on Thursday.
Speaking in Parliament, Ogai said it was a waste of resources for students to take unaccredited courses when they would not be accepted after graduation.
Chacha, however, said the decisions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal are clear and should be followed.
“We have received directives from the courts. If anyone has any doubts, consult us. We must not be alarmist,” Chacha said.
A court decision in 2020 gave responsibility for accreditation to the CUE.
Court of Appeal judges Mohammed Warsame, Daniel Musinga and Fatuma Sichale ruled that the CUE was the only body mandated to regulate standards and accredit courses, in consultation with individual universities.
“We see no reason to suspend the commission’s mandate to regulate and accredit courses as provided for in the Universities Act. The motion filed by the professional associations is unfounded and we therefore reject it,” the judges ruled.
The Kenya Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists Board, Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board, Kenya Pharmacy and Poison Board, Nursing Council of Kenya, Kenya Nutritionists and Dieticians Institute and Public Health Officers and Technicians Council had appealed to the court.
But that was after they challenged the law in the High Court arguing it had far-reaching implications for their work overseeing academic programs at universities.
The associations had challenged section 5A of the Universities (Amendment) Act 2016 which states that the accreditation, recognition, licensing, indexing of students and approval of any academic program offered in a university must be the exclusive mandate of the CUE.