Thousands of students in universities pursuing diploma and certificate courses, and who hope to further their studies, will not be allowed to transfer credits after an education sector regulator said it will not recognise their qualifications.
The Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) said in a statement that the diplomas and certificates being offered by universities cannot be recognised and registered under the Kenya National Qualifications Framework (KNQF).
Registration in the KNQF assures an academic institution, and the courses that it offers, international recognition.
The authority's director general, Dr Juma Mukhwana, said that for an institution or qualification to be registered in the KNQF, it must be accredited by a recognised quality assurance body.
Dr Mukhwana said for diplomas and certificates, this must be done by the Technical and Vocational Training Authority (TVETA), while for degrees (bachelor's, master's and doctorate) they must be accredited by the Commission for University Education (CUE).
"Most of the universities have been offering diplomas and certificates without bothering to accredit them with TVETA and neither are they accredited by CUE," he said.
He also said that most of the diplomas do not meet the minimum standards set by KNQA, which is two years of full time study.
Dr Mukhwana called for dialogue among the stakeholders to address the issue to avoid disadvantaging the students.
The KNQF came into effect in 2016, meaning that any diploma or certificate courses offered by universities after this period are null and void.
KNQA regulates, coordinates and harmonises the various levels of education (basic, TVET and university education) in the country and seeks to introduce international best-practice to the educational sector.
KNQA chairman Bonventure Kere recently scoffed at Universities still struggling to teach diploma and certificate courses.
He said the universities should be focusing on teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as doing research.
"We should not accept to reduce professors to teaching certificate and diploma students at all. Professors outside Kenya undertake research and do not teach students fresh from secondary schools taking certificate courses," Prof Kere said.
He spoke during a stakeholders workshop to sensitise universities and technical and vocational education training (TVET) institutions on the new qualification framework policy.
Speaker after speaker from TVET institutions criticised universities for hanging on to certificate and diploma courses and abandoning their role in undertaking research.
Due to a decline in student enrolment, more than 71 public and private universities have launched intensive campaigns to attract students. The authority has indicated that it will only approve a credit transfer done in accordance with the regulations, and credits transferred will not be more than 49 per cent.
The move is aimed at addressing the problem of universities that admit students from other institutions without the requisite qualifications. Qualification framework regulation require those who intend to award national qualifications to apply to the authority for accreditation.