The CS wants a hand in the appointment of Vice Chancellors, Principals of colleges and other senior positions, which he says have been marred with irregularities. He also wants all decisions by the university councils made in consultation with his Ministry.
Speaking when appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Education, Magoha, said that vesting too much powers on the university councils had put the welfare of students in jeopardy.
The CS referenced the decision by the University of Nairobi to hike fees without consulting the Ministry, a decision that has since been quashed by the court.
A proposal is introduced allowing the CS to revoke appointments, transfer and deploy members of councils, review or vacate their decisions and give approval to a council seeking to meet more than four times a year,” proposed Magoha.
If the proposed Education Amendment Bill of 2021 goes through, interviews to fill positions in universities will be conducted by a panel formed by the CS, who will forward to him the top three candidates from which one will be appointed.
Magoha says that the Education Act of 2012, which is in place, does not give him powers to oversee activities in the higher learning institutions.
Magoha’s move comes at a time when public universities are facing a mismanagement crisis, which he says result from the non-competitive and flawed appointment of the institutions’ leadership.
Public universities are also facing serious financial crisis despite receiving significant funding from the government, with Moi University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) having been rendered insolvent.
Moi University is also embroiled in an industrial standoff with its staff, which saw them down tools on October 27, culminating in the indefinite closure of the Eldoret based learning institution.
However, the chairman of the Vice Chancellors Committee, Prof Geoffrey Mluvi, has opposed the proposed changes saying that they will have far-reaching effects on the running of the institutions such as delayed filling of management positions.
Mluvi has protested the proposal to see the Ministry limit the number of meetings that a university council should convene per year to four, saying that it would affect the ability of the body to address unexpected issues that arise in the institutions.
Mluvi, therefore, has requested the Members of Parliament to reject the proposals when they are tabled in the house, urging the Ministry to use its representatives in the university councils to vent its interests.