Thousands of Students Studying Bogus Engineering Degrees

What you need to know:

Some of the courses are in well-established institutions with strong background in engineering.

Three Egerton students have complained of going through an unaccredited course.

The fate of thousands of engineering students hangs in the balance after it emerged yesterday that 26 courses have not been accredited by the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK).

This means that they cannot be registered as engineers upon graduation and therefore risk missing out on employment opportunities.

Some of the courses are in well-established institutions with a strong background in engineering, such as the University of Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Egerton University and Kenyatta University.

Egerton tops the list with five courses – civil and environmental engineering, electrical and control engineering, civil and structural engineering, mechanical engineering and technology, and manufacturing engineering).

Kenyatta University has four – petroleum engineering, biomedical engineering, aerospace engineering, and agricultural and biosystems engineering. South Eastern Kenya University has agricultural engineering, civil engineering, electrical and electronics engineering and mechanical engineering.

“It is a waste of resources for the parents and students taking unaccredited courses and such waste affects our country’s economy negatively,” said Ms Margaret Ogai, the EBK registrar when she appeared before the National Assembly’s Committee on Education and Research yesterday.

She was responding to questions by MPs regarding a petition by some students from Egerton University who have complained that their right to education has been violated by being taken through an unaccredited course.

“Unaccredited universities usually do not have the same educational standards and policies as accredited ones and hence the quality and standards of the education offered cannot be guaranteed,” Ms Ogai said.

The problem points to a disconnect between EBK, university managements and the Commission for University Education (CUE), which approves curricula for institutions.

Accreditation Impasse

Curiously, some of the students were placed in the programmes by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Placement Service (Kuccps) following recommendation by the Ministry of Education.

Ms Ogai said EBK was in consultations with CUE, the Council of Deans of Schools of Engineering and the State Department for University Education to resolve the accreditation impasse.

“We have developed an MoU aimed at ensuring collaboration and consultation in the accreditation processes,” she said. There are also plans to harmonise engineering programmes across universities.

The accreditation process involves an in-depth review and assessment of a programme to ensure compliance with the standards set by EBK.

The board assesses the programme design, curriculum content, faculty staff establishment, the institution’s training facilities and infrastructure, training duration and quality assurance.

The three Egerton graduates who filed the petition – David Olumasai, Ian Gicobi and Elvin Mangeni – graduated in 2019 with a Bsc in water and environmental engineering, which is not accredited.

said that they have been unable to secure jobs and wanted Parliament to compel the university to facilitate them to undertake eight remedial units for them to upgrade to BSc in civil and environmental engineering, which is accredited.

Alternatively, they asked to be paid each Sh750,000 by the university to enable them to upgrade to an EBK-accredited civil engineering course from another university.

They also wanted the university stopped from enrolling more students into the programme.

Vice Chancellor Prof Isaac Kibwage told the MPs that the university was willing to offer the eight remedial courses at no extra cost to the graduates.

He said that the university has reviewed the programme to meet the requirements of EBK for BSc civil and environment engineering. A request to CUE for change of the name of programme is also in progress.

Conditions for Accreditation

Civil engineering students from Multimedia University of Kenya were last week sent on a “break” after they boycotted classes protesting, that the institution has not been giving them accurate information regarding the accreditation of their programme.

“We can’t further our studies because our course isn’t recognised anywhere else apart from MMU. We have been protesting since First Year and now we are in the Fifth Year. The university has also refused to give us any transcripts,” Ms Hillary Akola, the class representative, told the Nation.

However, the chief executive officer of CUE Prof Mwenda Ntarangwi said that the fate of the students is not threatened and the university has fulfilled most of the conditions for accreditation.

“There is no effect. The commission followed the ministry’s directive to recommend placement of students while accreditation is in progress,” he said, adding that the commission has scheduled a site visit today before accrediting the programme.

“This issue has been going on and our processes have been in place to complete the accreditation of the programme but the schedules were disrupted by Covid-19,” Prof Ntarangwi said.

The chair of the committee Florence Mutua expressed concern over the causes saying that a number of incidents of collapsed buildings have been reported recently. She wanted the EBK to know if there is a connection Just last week, a five-storey building under construction collapsed in Kinoo, Kiambu County.

“We have witnessed the increasing number of collapsed buildings in the country and some preliminary investigations show that poor structural designs have contributed to the collapses hence the need to ensure quality education for our engineers,” Eng Ogai said.

The chair of the Engineering Deans Council Martin Nzomo said that if developers implemented the building code fully, cases of collapsed buildings would never occur.

“No registered engineer has been taken to court (over collapsed buildings). It’s only developers,” he said.

Nation - Friday,11th March 2022

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