More than 10,000 students enrolled in bachelor's degree courses in 26 universities risk getting "worthless" certificates because the programmes are being offered illegally.
According to a report by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service, the Commission for University Education (CUE) has not approved the courses and they are therefore invalid.
The courses include bachelor of arts in geography, political science, community development, development and policy studies and counselling psychology.
Other unauthorised arts courses are economics, Kiswahili, international relations, public administration and governance, and peace education.
Questionable science courses include applied statistics with computing, actuarial science, botany, informatics and natural resource management. Others are management and information, human nutrition and dietetics, public health, and biochemistry.
The placement service, which replaced the Joint Admissions Board, distributes all eligible students to various universities based on their choices and the capacity of the institutions based on the approved courses.
The commission, on the other hand, is in charge of quality in the universities and is mandated to approve all courses before they are launched. It is also authorised to regularly inspect standards.
According to the report, Tom Mboya University College is teaching 25 degree courses without the commission's approval, affecting about 810 students.
Garissa University has enrolled 385 students in eight unapproved courses. Others are Kenya Highlands Evangelical University with seven illegal programmes.
Kisii University has five and the University of Embu has six illegal courses.
It is not clear how CUE failed to stop the universities from offering the courses and what options are open to students who have already paid fees and are pursuing their courses of choice hoping to build successful careers.
Contacted for comment, CUE chief executive Mwenda Ntarangwi replied to a text message, saying: "Sorry, I can't talk right now." A vice-chancellor at one of the universities who sought anonymity blamed the commission for the mess, saying it does not do a thorough inspection of institutions.
He said while employers are unlikely to know if a degree programme is approved or not, graduates of such universities wishing to pursue postgraduate studies in Kenya or abroad would face admission challenges.
Last year, 90,744 KCSE candidates qualified to join university. The placement service has opened its online portal for the students to revise their courses for placement in April.