Winstone Chiseremi @Wchiseremi
University of Eldoret engineering students will have to wait until after an inspection tour of the institution by Engineers Board of Kenya (EKB) officials to know whether their courses are on line for approval.
Inspectors from the regulatory body are scheduled to inspect the engineering faculty’s facilities, curriculum and programmes on February 21. After the tour, EKB will make recommendations.
Sources at EKB say nothing is certain since the visit will determine whether the university has met criteria set by the board for accreditation.“The inspection will find out if they are up to the standards of what they have applied for. This includes having relevant laboratories and equipment,” said an EKB official who declined to be quoted.
The official decried a trend where some colleges are purporting to offer degree courses without following ERB accreditation procedures. “For instance, how does a college offering a six-year engineering degree course suddenly say the curriculum has been reduced to a four-year course?” he posed.
Tension and anxiety has been building up at the university between engineering students and the institution’s administration over lack of accreditation for their courses.
The pioneer engineering students admitted five years ago graduated last year without EBK accreditation.
More than 500 students, who were admitted at the university for slots under the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) have been skipping classes since last year to protest EBK’s refusal to approve their courses.
The students have also refused to sit end-of-semester examinations. The programmes include mechanical and production, civil, structural, agricultural and bio-systems engineering.
A contingent of police officers, on the invitation of the university, recently chased away students who had planned to meet with top officials of the institution to raise their concerns. Security has also been enahanced to avert any eventualities after the disgruntled learners threatened to paralyse all activities if their concerns were not addressed.
Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Teresa Akenga says the curricula were prepared by the School of Engineering to meet both the EBK and Commission for University Education (CUE) requirements. She said there should be no cause for alarm over the matter since her administration is engaged with EBK on their concerns. Akenga implored the students to resume classes immediately.
“During the 5th graduation ceremony in November last year, EBK granted the university permission to graduate students subject to the pending accreditation visit,” she said. The VC said the institution has completed construction of an Engineering Complex at a cost of Sh72 million, fully equipped with offices, laboratories and a library with books on key fields of engineering.
“The state-of-the-art library ensures students have enough research reference for various courses,” she said. The VC criticised the students for absconding classes despite being updated on the status of the accreditation process during which meetings letters from the EBK were tabled. “We reopened on January 2nd but by January 4th, none of the School of Engineering students had reported back to class.
On January 9th, the dean, School of Engineering and Head of Department called the class representatives for a meeting but no one attended,” said Akenga.
The students are accusing the university management of not informing them about the status of accreditation of their degree courses before they joined the institution.
“We were never told about lack of EBK accreditation when we joined four years ago,” said a student who declined to be named, fearing victimisation.
However, Prof Akenga said even after showing the students an email from EBK registrar Nicholas Musini, they have refused to adhere to the management’s request to resume classes.
“On January 22, we met class representatives again where we explained the entire accreditation process and even tabled the relevant documents,” she said. To her shock, the students planned to hold demonstrations and disrupt university activities and on going examinations, forcing the management to take steps to avoid the disruptions as per the institution’s security policy.
Prof Akenga dismissed allegations attributed to disgruntled students that her administration never updated them on the accreditation, terming their claims as untrue and misleading. The university, she said, is awaiting the EBK visit scheduled for February 21 to complete the accreditation procedures.“We are committed to offering demand-driven programmes that are global and conform to regulatory requirements,” she said.