Aug 10, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

To strengthen the quality of PhD students, the Commission for University Education (CUE) has required that Kenyan universities adopt more stringent curricular guidelines for doctoral students. 

One new rule?  Students must take course work for at least a year and a half before starting research.  Kenyan institutions of higher education have until the end of the calendar year to design their new programs, and have them approved by their institution’s senate and the CUE.

The CUE has ceased awarding PhD to students who conduct research immediately, or who take their coursework through seminars, claiming that that system yielded weak graduates. 

Under the new guidelines, doctoral students will be able to write their theses only after completing their coursework.

The University of Nairobi is one university working hard to ensure that it follows all the new guidelines.

School director, Professor Lydia Njenga said in a June memo to deans and directors, “As you are aware, in line with CUE requirements and the satisfaction of the university performance contracting, you are expected to introduce course work for all the PhD programs that currently do not have course work before the end of the 2016/2017 academic year.”

Vice-Chancellor Peter Mbithi echoed the director’s instructions.  He directed all department heads to design quality programs to meet the commission’s requirements.

So far, various departments are in the process of implementing the directives and working on drafting new curriculum for approval by the University of Nairobi’s senate. 

Not only will this initiative ensure that Kenya’s universities award degrees appropriately, it will also solidify the nation’s role in international higher education.

Learn more about studying in Kenya

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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