As I promised earlier, here is the follow up to the article on the idle life of a university student. I have a lot of time to do it, still been an idle student, and given that am on a forced holiday after Kenyatta University was indefinitely closed.
As we saw earlier, a degree course takes 8 semesters to complete, and in KU it takes 4 years to complete 8 semesters, or lets put it at 3 and a half years. For those who join a private university, it will take 2.5 years to complete the same 8 semesters. This is despite a KU semester been 4 weeks short of a standard 14 week semester. This difference is brought about by the arrangement of the KU calendar. This calendar is arranged as shown below:
First Regular Semester – 3 months
School Based Session (as Regular students are on a one month holiday) - 1 month
Second Regular Semester- 3 months
School Based Session (Regular students on 5 month long holiday)- 1 month
Trimester (For those regular students who can afford; Regular student still on holiday)- 3 months
School Based Session (Regular students still on holiday)-1 month
So as you see above, the university calendar is conveniently arranged to make sure that a regular student is quite idle. Now a question is why the professors behind the management of the university would like to make sure an active youth remains that idle.
Let us look at the students who make up the university.
1. The Regular student is the original student, that the university was started with them in mind, and have existed there as long as the university. This students have bout 2/3 of their fee footed by the government and foot the rest, and are eligible for Higher Education Loans Board(HELB) Loans. The regular students are selected into the university by the Joint Admission Board(JAB) and their admission is pegged on bed spaces available in the campus hostels(plus other facilities)
2. School Based Students- after several years of operation of the university, the Ministry of Education in conjunction with the university came up with a way of upgrading School teachers who had diplomas to degrees through the program known as school based. The School Based program is mainly run such that learning is mostly done at home, with a few weeks on campus for follow up, Continuous Assessment Tests and Exams. They foot their fee by themselves, and pay a higher sum than regular students.
3. Parallel Students- These program was started after the number of qualifying students(qualifying been those that got above C in their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) been cut off by the pegging of admission to bed spaces became considerably high. Also, the JAB selection was competitive, thus the lower grade a student scored, the lesser the chance of that student qualifying for a course that they actually wanted to do. The JAB selection resulted into many students doing courses they did not like in the first place. The parallel students were incorporated as sort of day scholars, hence their admission was not pegged on bed spaces, rather on the number the university facilities could support. Since these students were not government sponsored, they had to foot their entire fee. Their fee also happened to be a little higher than that of the regular students.
4. Open Learning Students- This is a re-implementation of the school based program, but targeting other professionals other than teachers. The fees structuring and academic structure is done in the same way as that of the school based.
As seen from above, it is financially attractive for the university to run the non-regular programs. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in the university structuring its academic calendar in favor of these programs.
These has been done to such an extent that the not financially attractive regular semesters are 4 weeks short of a regular 14 week semester, in order to create space for the school based sessions.
Another dimension of this is the way a parallel student is admitted. The regular student joins the university during the first regular semester. The parallel student can join the university during the first regular semester, the second regular semester or even the trimester. This is ok, but it presents one problem.
Some units are broken down into components. Example of such a unit is Calculus, which starts at Calculus 1, Calculus 2, etc. Suppose a student is supposed take Calculus 1 up to Calculus 4. Each unit is offered in one and only one of the two regular semesters. Therefore Calculus 1 and 3 will be offered in semester one while calculus 2 and 4 in semester two. A regular students and a parallel student reporting in semester one will take the units in the order Calculus 1- Calculus 2- Calculus 3- Calculus 4. A parallel student reporting in the second regular semester will do them in the order Calculus 2- Calculus 1 – Calculus 4 – calculus 3. This is because the student will be taking the second semester of an year before the first semester of the same year, therefore resulting in this strange anomaly.
As we hope the university students and lecturers are able to complete its coursework in the 10 week semesters, lets also hope that they are able to offer quality education for the school based and open learning students who too, given that it’s the same set of lecturers who handle all this students.
The university meanwhile tells us that it continues to offer quality (and perhaps affordable) education. This, it tells us, is the focus of the university, not the millions that they stand to make from non regular students. And guys, that is why the regular university student is quite idle. The government is also showing quite a lot of interest in abolishing the parallel student program, and absorbing all its students into the regular scheme.