Kisii University and University of Embu have the highest number of degree programmes that have been shunned by students.
This is according to data released by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) with regard to the just-concluded placement exercise.
Out of 107 least wanted degree programmes, 16 are offered at Kisii University and seven at University of Embu, while Maasai Mara University has six. Most of these courses were related to environment, theology, agriculture and fisheries.
At Kisii University, Bachelor of Arts in peace and conflict studies, Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Science (aquatic resources conservation and development) and Bachelor of Science (natural products) failed to attract prospective students.
Meru University of Science and Technology had Bachelor of Science (environmental science and resource management), Presbyterian University of East Africa had Bachelor of Theology as did Africa Nazarene University, Co-operative University of Kenya had Bachelor of Social Work and Community Development while Kirinyaga University had Bachelor of Technology in mechanical ventilation and air conditioning.
Also at Kisii University, Bachelor of Arts (applied linguistics), Bachelor of Arts (translation and interpretation) and Bachelor of Sciences in applied aquatic science, horticulture, waste management, environmental science, and in fisheries and aquaculture all had no takers.
Other shunned science courses at the university were cellular and molecular biology, conservation biology, agricultural economics and biology (botany or zoology).
At the University of Embu, the seven Bachelor of Science programmes were shunned by students are in environmental science, horticulture, management of agro-ecosystem and environment, range management, water resource management, wildlife management and conservation and agricultural economics. Others include University of Eldoret (4), Pwani University (three), Karatina University (five) and Masinde Muliro University (two).
Public Universities Vice-Chancellors Committee chairman, Prof Francis Aduol, said the institutions will have to be innovative in their bid to offer attractive programmes.
Prof Aduol said that duplication by universities in their degree course offerings was to blame for the crisis adding that this was a wake-up call to university managers.
CUE chairman, Prof Chacha Nyaigoti Chacha, echoed the sentiments, saying universities' planning departments will have to re-evaluate programmes that have not attracted any students over the last two years.
Kenya Association of Private Universities (Kapu) chairman Prof Mumo Kisau, who is also the vice-chancellor of Scott Christian University, however maintained that there was no cause for alarm.
Prof Kisau said most programmes that did not get students had specific targets, citing theology and religious studies. "These programmes attract mature students and not Form Four leavers," he said.
The Ministry of Education has been pushing universities to offer market-driven programmes, march enrolment to their capacities and diversify their revenue streams.
On Monday, Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said it was time the country had an honest conversation on toxic politics and ethnic balkanisation in public universities as well as erratic expansion programmes.
"We must match the spiralling growth of university education with commensurate rise in the level of funding, facilities and other resources. Neglecting this has led to a sharp decline in quality of education," he said.
"We must seek to de-ethnicise our universities to ensure that they reflect the face of the nation. We must rid our universities of situations where, in some, as much as 50 per cent of members of staff come from the same community," he added.
He regretted that there were many programmes in universities that failed to attract a single student and directed CUE to conduct a thorough analysis of these courses with a view to addressing this shocking scenario, including a review and possible scrapping of such programmes.
"Of great concern is that there is an unbelievable similarity in the content of academic programmes offered in local universities. The result of this is low quality in the calibre of graduates being churned out of our universities. Another concern is the mismatch between the academic programmes offered in many of the universities and the national development agenda," said Prof Magoha.