FACTORS THAT UNDERPIN THE CHOICE OF PROGRAMMES AT UNIVERSITIES BY NEW STUDENTS
ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
This article will attempt to show the factors that underpin choice of university programmes by new students. For specificity, this paper will include, but not limit to, prestigious courses to be, science-based courses, Information Technology, Business-oriented courses and Law. This is in light of the fact that the science, information and technology are the dominant sectors in current times. This article will refer to statistics and information about universities in Kenya and will therefore mostly attempt to prove its thesis in this geographical constraint.
In the Kenyan education system, students join universities after completing secondary school education. Due to limited space and other resources in the universities, students have to achieve minimum qualifications in order to be considered for admission to both public and private universities. The Joint Admissions Board, commonly referred to as JAB, is the institution responsible for setting the minimum qualification requirements this varies greatly depending on the courses selected. JAB is tasked to determine the number of students who join universities under the government sponsorship scheme. After determining the students eligible for admission to public universities, more specific restrictions are used in order to pick students for various university programmes (http://www.joint-admissions-board.ac.ke/). Students still have a relatively wide range of possibilities to choose from even within these restrictions. Interestingly, the number of students admitted to public universities through J.A.B depends on the total number of beds available in all the public universities. Nonetheless, those who miss out but attained the minimum university entry mark of C+ or C with a relevant diploma certificate are admitted through the parallel degree programmes (module II) if they can afford the full fees for the course. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Kenya) In 2011, 17,000 students were selected for admission to public universities. This is the all-time highest number of admissions despite the fact 66,134 students who qualified could not be admitted. Previously an average of about 10,000 students was admitted annually (University World News, Jan-April 2011, p. 435). This shows that the university education sector has been growing appreciatively. A recent survey shows that an average of 300 students drops out of universities annually. This is either voluntarily or by forcible discontinuation due to poor performance. This is according to the international body of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO (2004), Higher Education Today, p. 5).
Educational decision-making in terms of selection of a university or a university programme is one of such exercises that confronts the average candidate and is dictated by one consideration or another. These considerations can be quite complex, particularly when there is a large number of universities to choose from. In more developed countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America such decisions are not difficult, however, students in these countries have to a large number of universities to choose from unlike in the less-developed countries such as Ghana and Kenya. For instance, Kenya has approximately 23 institutions of higher learning as compared to the United States of America which has 4,000 universities, of which, only seven (together with their satellite campuses) are public universities. This is according to a 2004 report of higher learning of reforming tertiary education in Kenya. Potential students in Kenya therefore have a hard time in choosing a university programme as they have to choose a particular course and match it to one of the few institutions of higher learning. Several factors therefore underpin the...
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