Accelerated student enrolments in Kenyan public universities: implications for quality instruction
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The purpose of this study was to investigate implications of student enrolments in Kenyan public universities on factors of quality instruction. Focus was put on selected departments in the Faculties of Medicine and Engineering in the University of Nairobi and the Faculties of Education and Science at Kenyatta University. The specific objectives of the study were three, namely: 1 (a) To investigate the implications of increased student numbers on: (i) Physical facilities and learning related resources; (ii) abilities of university academic staff to present and evaluate lessons, do research and publish (b) To find out merits and demerits of the staggered semester system. 2. To investigate the effects of expanded enrolments on the quality of university out-put as measured by the lecturers' opinions on quality of graduates produced and graduates’ satisfaction with skills gained. 3. To investigate ways of improving the quality of instruction in the universities. To answer the questions that guided the study, data was collected through administration of questionnaires and interviews to sampled graduates, lecturers and administrators from the selected faculties. In total, 35 engineering, 33 medical and 65 education graduates and 39 lecturers provided data through questionnaires. Those interviewed included 18 lecturers and 12 administrators. Supplementary information was obtained through analysis of available documents. The analysis of data revealed that in virtually all the studied departments, expanded enrolments strained the use of available facilities and resources and increased lecturers' workload. The staggered semester system introduced to handle large student numbers, was found unpopular among the respondents because it put pressure on lectures and resulted in reduced contact hours with students. Lecturers rated the post-expansion graduates as inferior to their pre-expansion colleagues. Most post-expansion graduates indicated that they were dissatisfied with levels of skills gained in their university experience while most of their pre-expansion counterparts indicated satisfaction with skills gained. Overall, rapid expansion of students negatively affected the quality of instruction and, as a result the quality of graduates produced. In line with these findings it was recommended that effort be made to marshal resources to cater for the increased student numbers. The study also recommended improved management of the public universities especially depolicisation of university administration, motivation of academic staff and more prudent expenditure of funds. Review of the university curriculum was found necessary. In this connection universities should co-operate with industries and middle level training institutions in matters of curriculum development, training and research.