Kenya: Egerton Students Protest Graduation Snub

Hundreds of Egerton University students will have to wait longer to graduate though they have completed their studies.

The university will hold its 43rd graduation ceremony on Friday next week. But the Nation has learnt that several students are not on the published graduation list.

Students who spoke to Nation claimed that they had completed their coursework but were left out of the mini graduation.

While some claimed their grades were missing from the student portal, others have unresolved financial issues and accused the university of failing to address their concerns.

Students also protested the introduction of new levies before they graduate.

"Why are they not including all of us who qualify to graduate? Which criteria did they use to decide who graduates in which graduation? This is unfair," said a student, who requested anonymity.

A provisional graduation list seen by the Nation has 1,912 students. Some students estimated that over 5,000 of their peers who have completed their studies will not graduate, a figure the university has disputed.

Students to miss graduation

The Nation could not independently establish the number of students who will miss the graduation.

"Any graduand who has not cleared fees is encouraged to clear with the finance office by Monday, June 7, 2021, [failing] which his/her name will be expunged from the graduation list," a May 19, 2021 university internal memo reads.

The university has introduced new charges for the 2021/2022 academic year, the memo says.

"The university management board has approved the statutory charges on all students who have not yet graduated from the university, if the same has not been levied and this includes the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service charges of Sh1,500 for every regular government-sponsored student and Commission for University Education charges as follows: diploma students (Sh800), undergraduate students (Sh1,000), master's students (Sh1,500) and PhD students (Sh2,000)," says the memo, signed university finance officer Moses Ouma.

Some students said they were shocked by the KUCCPS and CUE charges, which they said are paid once in their first year.

However, the university administration has denied claims that it has locked out students from the graduation ceremony.

Mandatory graduation charges

The acting vice-chancellor, Prof Isaac Kibwage, said the students on the list had been cleared by the university senate after paying their full fees, mandatory graduation charges and a graduation fee of Sh4,500.

"No student who qualifies to graduate will be locked out as long as he or she has fulfilled all the requirements. More students were included in the provisional graduation list on Monday and that makes a total of more than 2,000 students who will graduate on June 18," Prof Kibwage said.

He added: "Any student who has no issue is going to graduate and for those who have issues we shall continue dealing with them and they will graduate in the next graduation in December."

He added that some students had not cleared with their respective deans for various reasons.

"We have a procedure of processing the exams and if the deans of faculties have not cleared the students, it means the students have not met the threshold for graduating."

Withholding students' grades

Prof Kibwage acknowledged that the university had in the past faced challenges with part-time lecturers who fail to submit marks for students in good time.

The lecturers withhold students' grades to force the university to pay them as they are owed billions of shillings. The cash-strapped institution also owes other suppliers billions of shillings in unpaid bills.

"This is a small fraction of the problem and I have given firm instructions to deans and chairpersons of the faculties to resolve the problem because if a student did the exams, the question of the missing mark should not arise at all," he said.

"We're working to resolve this perennial problem. No student should overstay at Egerton University during my tenure and if there are any mistakes, we must sort them out without causing the students unnecessary anguish. If a student has an issue he or she must be told in good time to resolve it."

Additional reporting by David Muchunguh

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