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Enrollment in PhD, master’s programs drop as labour market tightens.

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Enrollment in PhD, master's programs drop as labour market tightens.

Enrollment in PhD, master’s programs drop as labour market tightens.
Enrollment in postgraduate courses at public universities has dropped to its lowest level in eight years, owing to a tight labour market that has limited opportunities for masters and PhD graduates.
According to Ministry of Education data, the number of students pursuing master’s and PhD degrees in institutions fell to 28,539 in the fiscal year ended June, a 36.09 per cent decrease from 44,657 last year and 67,407 in 2017.
This is the lowest enrolment since June 2013, when 24,417 students were enrolled in postgraduate courses, a drop that has harmed the finances of Kenya’s cash-strapped public universities even as the Treasury reduces funding to Kenya’s universities.
Experts attribute the drop to fewer job opportunities in an economy plagued by layoffs as a result of the Covid-19 economic hardships.
PhD and Master’s degrees are regarded as a ticket to advancement, but stagnant pay in corporate Kenya seeking to keep costs under control has stymied the pursuit of postgraduate qualifications.
The drop the second highest in the last eight years is the result of an increase in tuition fees as universities seek additional resources to plug funding gaps.
Kenya has struggled to create enough jobs, and Covid-19 has exacerbated the labour market.
The number of formal jobs in Kenya fell for the first time in two decades last year, reflecting the country’s economic struggle, which also fell for the first time since 1992 due to coronavirus-induced shutdowns and restrictions.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) released annual economic data on Thursday, revealing that the economy shed 187,300 formal jobs in the fiscal year ended June 2020, the first time since 2001, when the economy shed 18,300 salaried workers.
The loss of formal jobs was more pronounced in the private sector, which laid off approximately 206,700 workers during a period when businesses faced a difficult operating environment, including reduced operating hours as a result of nighttime curfews and travel restrictions imposed to contain the deadly pandemic.
During the Covid-19 economic downturn, average earnings grew at the slowest rate in a decade.
According to official data, companies increased average monthly pay by 3.82 per cent to Sh67,490 in the fiscal year ended June 2020, a decrease from the 8.16 per cent increase to Sh65,006 the previous year.
This was the slowest increase in earnings since 2011 when firms raised average pay by 3.48 per cent, and nearly half the 7.41 per cent increase in a decade prior to last year, reducing the motivation for workers to further their studies in the quest of promotions that come with higher pay.
The drop in master’s and PhD enrolment has hampered public universities’ efforts to raise more funds, as has a drop in the number of students pursuing parallel degree programs and a drop in Treasury allocations.
The funding gap for public universities increased to Sh27 billion in the fiscal year to June from Sh20 billion the previous year, reflecting the institutions’ cash flow crisis.
The University of Nairobi (UoN), for example, raised its fees to alleviate a severe cash crunch.
UoN increased fees for students pursuing master’s degrees in courses such as communication and business administration (MBA) to Sh680,000 for a two-year program from an average of Sh275,000, representing a 147 per cent increase.
According to the data, Maseno University had the greatest drop in postgraduate enrolment, with 500 students enrolling in the year to June, a drop of 85 per cent from 3,337 in the same period last year.
In the fiscal year ended June, the University of Eldoret and Kenyatta University saw enrollment declines of 51% and 40%, respectively, to 1,199 and 8,964 students.
Postgraduate enrolment at Egerton University and the University of Nairobi increased by 310 per cent and one per cent, respectively, to 1,026 and 10,114 students at the end of the fiscal year ended June.
UoN and Kenyatta University ran a combined Sh4.3 billion financial deficit, highlighting the institutions’ cash flow issues, which prompted the increase in tuition fees.
According to documents tabled in Parliament, UoN had a deficit of Sh2.17 billion in the fiscal year to June, up from Sh1.62 billion the previous year, while KU’s deficit increased to Sh2.13 billion from Sh1.3 billion.
Also Read:
The debt for public universities stood at Sh60 billion in the fiscal year ended June, highlighting the institutions’ dire financial situation.
Some public universities, led by the University of Nairobi, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kisii University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT), Egerton University, and Kabianga University, have requested bailouts from the Treasury.
The International Monetary Fund has increased pressure on Kenya to merge struggling public universities in order to keep them afloat.
Enrollment in PhD, master’s programs drop as labour market tightens.

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