University students could soon leave college with both bachelor’s and a master’s degree in a new Ministry of Education proposal.
In a proposal the ministry chiefs propose dual degree programmes as part of the changes they prefer to be implemented.
The document, titled ‘Matrix on governance of public universities’, suggests the development of “a framework for dual degree and dual qualifications for priority programme areas”.
Dual degree courses allow students to integrate their undergraduate studies with a master’s. They would then graduate with both degrees in four and a half years.
The programme can give ambitious students an opportunity to blend in two undergraduate programmes or a master’s and a PhD.
University of Nairobi vice chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama has described the proposal as welcome and noble.
Double-degree programmes will help graduates acquire advanced academic qualifications a lot quicker than when they study two separate Bachelor’s (or Master’s) degrees.
“Double degrees usually take just one year longer than a single degree. In some institutions, they acquire both degrees in four and a half years,” Kiama said.
However, such a plan will need huge manpower resources, says Constantine Wasonga, secretary general of the University and Academic Staff Union.
He suggests proper attention be put on the requirements of launching it, which should be fully implemented.
“Remember universities are still caught in the loop of half-baked graduates, who are not ready for the job market,” Wasonga said.
“So we need huge research and investment if we are to talk about double-degree programmes.”
Wasonga questioned the ability of universities, in their current state, to support dual degrees.
“We are still in a situation where the same lecturer teaching undergraduate students supervises Master’s fellows and sometimes PhD scholars. This is already an overload. Now we are talking of dual degrees!” Wasonga said.
However, in the long run, he says such a plan could be a panacea in addressing the shortage of academic staff in public universities.
Kiama further explained that a major advantage of a dual degree programme is saving money. This is because earning a dual degree is typically faster than earning each degree individually.
“In most dual degree programmes, students can save at least one year,” he said.
In dual degree programmes, the institutions are required to help the student focus on only one coursework at a time.
This means the student cannot take both programmes at the same time to obtain two academic credentials as quickly as possible.
“Understand that part-time pursuit will take a long time, although it should take a shorter amount of time than if you obtain each degree as a part-time student separately,” Kiama said.