KUCCPS owes university applicants explanation

Last week’s disclosure by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) that more than 31,000 students who were expecting to join public universities and colleges this year risk losing their places if they fail to make fresh choices was disturbing.

By the end of May, 93,000 candidates applied for places at public universities and colleges, but last week the placement agency said it had admitted about 42,000 applicants for degree programmes and 15,000 in tertiary colleges. Those who missed were asked to reapply for the second and final choices.

The huge number of applicants who failed to get places in public institutions of higher learning has now put on the spot this new body that was established to co-ordinate the placement of government-sponsored students to universities and colleges.

The agency says the students either failed to meet the minimum cluster points for the degrees and diploma courses they selected or they were elbowed out of the choices by competition.

It is unlikely the candidates failed to meet the minimum cluster points because selection of courses was based on one meeting the minimum cluster qualifications.

Stiff competition seems to be a more likely reason. The placement agency needs to answer these questions urgently.

How effective is this new system when more than 30 per cent of the students miss out even after they have made eight choices?

What happens if a candidate who has attained university entry cut-off points and has also attained minimum cluster points for a course misses out for the second time?

Will such candidates be locked out of pursuing education in public institutions? Is it fair to ask these students to pay Sh1,000 when they are re-applying after they had parted with Sh1,500 in the first instance?

Clearly, candidates apply without prior knowledge on the number of candidates interested in a particular course and the number of vacancies available in the public universities and colleges.

Unless KUCCPS develops clearer selection criteria, fear of failure to get a place in certain courses will force candidates to go for courses with little competition in a bid to get the now elusive places.

Lost precious time Secondly, most candidates failed to bid for the courses they qualified for because the application guidelines were not clear. Applicants for degree programmes were asked to make eight choices, including two diploma choices.

guidelines said that a candidates’ choices 1(a), 1(b) and 1(c) clusters was to be for similar programmes while choices two, three and, four can be any other programmes for both degree and diploma programmes.

If a candidate qualifies to apply for a bachelor’s degree, they may choose diploma choices as choice five and six.

Clearly the body would have made an effort to visit schools or train schools’ career masters on how the students should pick the courses.

Most candidates spent lots of time in cyber cafes trying to make sense of these vague guidelines.

Hopefully going forward, the agency will educate candidates on how they will select courses once the examination result is out. - The People - 7th July 2014

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