Universities are in a rush to beat Friday's deadline to submit crucial data to the Commission for University Education (CUE) that is likely to seal the fate of some of them. This will be the second detailed document that public universities will be providing to the regulator that will play a critical role in determining their viability, with some of them likely to be shut down and others being merged.
The first report was submitted to CUE by June 30.
Staff are staring at the possibility of job losses that will be occasioned by a CUE report set to be submitted to Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha by July 30.
Auditor-General Edward Ouko has already indicated that a majority of public universities are insolvent due to debts and failure to meet their financial obligations.
Several university administrators protested that the details being sought by the government require more time.
Universities are also racing against time to prepare their own reports on how reforms at the 31 institutions are progressing, as was directed by Prof Magoha last month. Some of the areas the government seeks details on are the quality of doctoral programmes, including student-faculty ratios, adequacy of teaching and learning facilities and qualifications of faculty.
Others are quality of academic programmes, financial sustainability, duplication of academic programmes and staffing. These will be used in advising the CS on the quality of university education.
The universities are also required to declare where they are located. They will have to decide the fate of more than 27,000 staff in public universities, including 9,000 lecturers. Already, the University of Nairobi has identified 20 programmes that will be phased out. The government has ruled out any extra funding to public universities, saying they will have to make do with the Sh97 billion allocated to them.
However, the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) has vowed to oppose any merger, saying stakeholders have not been consulted. Uasu Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga wondered how merging broke universities will make them financially sound.
Dr Wasonga said the institutions were established and chartered by the government and wondered at the logic behind merging some of them.
"The mergers will affect jobs and, as a union, we will oppose them at all costs," said Dr Wasonga, while accusing the government of failing to provide enough resources to the institutions.