DOES UNIVERSITY EDUCATION PRODUCE “HALF-BAKED” GRADUATES? PERSPECTIVES FROM GRADUATES OF A KENYAN UNIVERSITY
University education in Kenya has had an exponential growth in terms of the number of chartered universities and that of students’ enrolment over the past decade. This phenomenal growth has been occasioned by the need to increase access to higher education in line with the Kenya Vision 2030. However, concerns have been raised among educational stakeholders as to whether this exponential growth in quantity matches with the production of quality graduates to meet current and future industrial needs of the country. This study, therefore, aimed at investigating the aforementioned through a graduate tracer survey (GTS) in one of the Kenyan universities with the view of investigating in retrospect, the perceptions of graduates regarding the status of university education in terms of study conditions, provisions, experiences, teaching and learning conditions; investigating graduates’ experiences as they transited to the labour market; and finally, assessing the relevance of the skills offered at university to the requirements of the labour market. The study was anchored on the Context, Input, Process and Product (CIPP) model of curriculum evaluation. By employing the expost facto research design and cross- sectional survey method, data was collected for three months (April-July, 2016) from a target population of 360 graduates of Laikipia University (LU). The target cohort was that of 2013 graduates both from the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.-Arts) and Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com) programmes. An online questionnaire was administered, via the SoSci Platform in collecting data from which, the data was transferred to the SPSS programme for analysis. The findings, among others, revealed that more than half (53%) of the graduates did not have access to ICT facilities at the university while only 27 per cent of those who had access to ICT had some knowledge in accessing learning resources. Library facilities were rated below average with availability of e-resources and adequacy of library space being rated as very bad especially from the satellite campus graduates. The study also established that less than one third of the participants rated their experiences in research as either good or very good. It was also revealed that a graduate from the university took an average of about 10 months to get a job both due to limited jobs in area of specialization and corruption issues. In addition, majority (86 per cent) of the B.Com graduates took additional training in order to improve their employment chances. It was further revealed that even though most skills acquired at the university were relevant and highly utilized in the work place, university contribution particularly towards the attainment of ICT skills was low in spite of the skill being in high demand. This study therefore recommends among others that the university institutes measures towards integrating ICT in teaching and learning for quality curriculum delivery. Further, the university needs to expand library space and stock relevant resources for library users especially in the satellite campuses. Additionally, the B.Com curricular should be reviewed to incorporate relevant content as per the current needs of the industry.
Keywords: Graduates, labour market, quality, relevance, skills, study conditions.