Kenya adopts online accreditation process
Kenya is moving its accreditation process for university programs from a textbook to an online system.
It is “finished with the old, with the new,” says the National Commission for University Education (CUE), citing transparency and efficiency as the key factors that necessitated the change of the old system which had long been marred by discrepancies.
The manual system involved the delivery of five hard copies of the program that a university wished to have accredited. The commission would then select a panel of experts who would review the program and make decisions on accreditation.
According to the CEO of the commission, Professor Mwenda Ntarangwi, the transition was long overdue, as the manual system had resulted in many complaints from various institutions. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the process.
“The old system requires universities to send five [paper] copies of a program they wish to submit for accreditation. I am sure we will save some trees with the new system, ”said Ntarangwi News from academia.
Once a university and its stakeholders have identified a program they wish to add, they present their proposal to the CUE, which then decides whether it meets existing standards. This would involve a team of experts who would review and comment on the documents.
The commission would then carry out an on-site examination of the institution concerned in order to determine its capacity to manage the planned program. Among the factors to check are:
• Market forces or demand;
• Availability of resources;
• Controls by professional bodies;
• Availability and adequate space; and
• Available facilities and teaching staff.
“I have heard from vice-chancellors and other leaders of our universities who may say that they submitted programs, but took too long to get accreditation.
“The delays could be at the university, where the suggested changes are being implemented, and not delayed at the commission, as most would claim,” Ntarangwi said.
“With the new system, we will be able to determine exactly where the delay is, if there is any.”
The new online system should allow universities and the CUE to follow the accreditation process, right from the proposal stage. It will also save a lot of time and money that was previously spent delivering and reviewing countless sheets of paper.
Starting in June, Ntarangwi said, no university will be required to submit hard copies of its program proposals.
The new system requires the university to upload the application to the CUE portal with a self-assessment report that the commission uses to prepare for regular audits of institutions.
“The commission will ensure that the report meets basic expectations and then select peer reviewers who will browse the report or program on the portal and submit their comments.
“The university will then do the reviews online, after which the commission will move on to the next steps in the accreditation process,” said Ntarangwi.
“The new process will allow all stakeholders to follow the whole process and know where there is a bottleneck, if any. A rector will now be able, for example, to check the status of his program undergoing accreditation.
“The login will be accessed using the custom login credentials we provide. If there is a delay, the person can see and note exactly where the system is clogged. This will make the process more transparent, ”he added.
Beryl Mate, executive director of administration planning and development at Zetech University, welcomed the transition to an online system.
“The manual system involves printing and scanning a lot of documents, and having to hand them over personally to the committee, which was quite tedious and expensive.
“Most institutions are also trying to ‘go green’ by limiting the amount of paperwork involved in their day-to-day operations. So the online system is a welcome change, ”said Mate News from academia.
The new system could also help Kenyan universities to better align with the demands of the labor market. A report by CUE on the state of university education, found that humanities programs were best represented in most institutions (at 58% of the total), resulting in a low staff-to-student ratio.
Architecture, law, teacher education, engineering and veterinary medicine programs were the least represented, at around 1% each.
The report also found that the majority of academic staff (69%) worked at public universities, while 19% worked at private universities. The remaining 12% was distributed among various colleges.