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Universities Act

An Act Of Parliament To Make Better Provisions For The Advancement Of University Education.


Under section 3(1) of the Universities Act, the objectives of university education in Kenya include;

(a) Advancement of knowledge through teaching, scholarly research and scientific investigation

(b) Promotion of learning in the student body and society generally

(c) Promotion of cultural and social life of society

(d) Support and contribution to the realization of national economic and social development

(e) Promotion of the highest standards in, and quality of, teaching and research

(f) Education, training and retraining higher level professional, technical and management personnel

(g) Dissemination of the outcomes of the research conducted by the university to the general community

(h) Facilitation of life-long learning through provision of adult and continuing education

(i) Fostering of a capacity for independent critical thinking among its students

(j) Promotion of gender balance and equality of opportunity among students and employees

(k) Promotion of equalization for persons with disabilities, minorities and other marginalized groups.


The Act, under section 3(2), dictates that the governance of universities shall be guided by the guidelines under Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. The Act simply notes that these guidelines shall regard;

(a) Promote quality and relevance of its programmes

(b) Enhance equity and accessibility of its services

(c) Promote inclusive, efficient, effective and transparent governance systems and practices and maintenance of public trust

(d) Ensure sustainability and adoption of best practices in management and institutionalization of systems of checks and balances

(e) Promote private-public partnership in university education and development

(f) Institutionalize non-discriminatory practices.



The Act establishes (section 4) this commission which is a jurist person. It has perpetual life, capable of suing and being sued, holding property and also disposing off the property as it so wishes.

It is the successor to the Commission for Higher Education that existed before the commencement of the Act.


The Act gives the functions of the Commission. These such functions include;

(a) Promote the objectives of university education

(b) Advise the Cabinet Secretary on policy relating to university education

(c) Promote, advance, publicise and set standards relevant in the quality of university education, including the promotion and support of internationally recognised standards

(d) Monitor and evaluate the state of university education systems in relation to the national development goals

(e) Licence any student recruitment agencies operating in Kenya and any activities by foreign institutions

(f) Develop policy for criteria and requirements for admission to universities

(g) Recognize and equate degrees, diplomas and certificates conferred or awarded by foreign universities and institutions in accordance with the standards and guidelines set by the Commission from time to time

(h) Undertake or cause to be undertaken, regular inspections, monitoring and evaluation of universities to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Act or any regulations made under section 70

(i) On regular basis, inspect universities in Kenya

(j) Approve universities in Kenya

(k) Regulate university education in Kenya

(l) Approve and inspect university programme in Kenya

m) Promote quality research and innovation


Establishment (section 13)

The Act provides that every university shall be established by a charter or a letter of interim authority. It goes on to provide that any person who wishes to establish a university shall apply by writing to the Commission for accreditation and grant of a charter. The application to the Commission shall be accompanied by a draft of the charter. The draft of the charter shall contain, inter alia, governance structures and systems, members of stuff, development of the Statutes, financial management systems and process of voluntary winding up.

Letter of Interim Authority, Effect, Duration and Revocation (section 14)

The Act provides that, on receiving the application, the Commission shall consider the application and proceed to inspect and assess the resources of the applicant. If satisfied that the applicant has met the requirements of the Act, the Commission shall proceed to recommend to the Cabinet Secretary to issue a letter of interim authority to the applicant. The Cabinet Secretary, once satisfied that institution shall contribute to the development of university education, may proceed to grant the letter. The commission may also advice the cabinet secretary on the suitability of an institution intended to be established as a public university.

Effect of a letter of interim authority (section 15)

Once granted the letter of interim authority, an institution becomes a juristic person of perpetual succession having common seal and can sue or be sued and hold property in its name. Such an institution with the letter of interim shall have power to set up a governing body for the university, continue to develop the physical facilities, among other things.

Duration of the letter of interim authority (section 16)

A Letter of Interim Authority granted under section 15 shall lapse—(1) (a) after the expiry of a period of four years from the date of issue, subject to an extension for a period of four years which may be granted by the Cabinet Secretary, on the recommendation of the Commission; or (b) upon revocation under section 17; or (c) upon the grant of a Charter. (2) An institution whose Letter of Interim Authority lapses under subsection (1) (a) or (b) shall be wound up in accordance with this Act.

Revocation of the letter of interim authority (section 17)

On recommendation of the Commission or an application by a respective institution, the cabinet secretary may revoke the letter of interim authority according to the regulations of winding up universities. He/she shall then proceed to publish such under a Gazette notice.


Accreditation report for purposes of granting a charter. (Section 18)

The commission shall prepare an accreditation report indicating whether or not the application for establishment of a university has met the requirements of the Act. This shall be done at least six months before the expiry of the letter of interim authority. The commission shall then proceed to submit the report to the cabinet secretary.

Grant or refusal to grant a charter (section 19)

The cabinet secretary shall consider the report and recommendations under section 18 and may recommend to the President the grant of a charter, if satisfied the application meets the requirements of the Act. The charter may be in form of a draft charter submitted with the application or in such other form as recommended by the commission. The cabinet secretary may extend the letter for a further and final four years and if dissatisfied by the application, he may reject it.

In the event the application is rejected, the cabinet secretary shall furnish the applicant the reasons for rejection. The letter of interim authority shall also be revoked within one year provided the applicant may submit a fresh application under the Act. The cabinet secretary in consultation with the commission may appoint a person or persons to administer and manage the institution for the better protection of the students and staff interests.


A charter could be said to be a document that confers powers of operation to an institution, public or private, that has been created with oversight of an authority.

Effect of the charter. (Section 20)

Once furnished with a charter, the university is a corporate body with perpetual succession. It may proceed to mobilize academic resources, develop new academic curriculums for approval by the commission, award degrees, diplomas, postgraduate degrees and diplomas honorary degrees and other academic certificates.

The university shall not share space with incompatible businesses and shall not also establish a camps in a foreign country without the consultation of the cabinet secretary. The cabinet secretary may by order published in a Gazette declare or establish an institution of higher learning a constituent college of a university.

Publication of a charter (section 21)

The Act gives powers to the cabinet secretary to publish a charter under a Gazette notice, once it has been granted.

Variation, Revocation of a charter (Section 22)

Revocation of a charter

On recommendation of the cabinet secretary, the President may revoke a charter, if in the opinion of the president, it is in the best interest of university education to revoke such a charter. A recommendation for revocation shall be made only when the university has been afforded the opportunity to be heard and the commission has inspected the institution and is satisfied the university is unable to offer university education.

If a charter is revoked, the cabinet secretary shall publish such under a Gazette notice and the institution shall cease to be a university one year from the date of publication of the notice. Revocation of a charter shall not affect the validity of any academic award made before the revocation.

Variation of a charter

A charter may be varied by the cabinet secretary if in his opinion it is in the best interest of university education. The recommendation to vary the charter shall be based on the need to, inter alia, align the particular charter to the constitution or any written law, reflect changes in sponsorship of a university in cases of private universities, and align the charter according to the best interest of university education.


Specialized degree awarding institutions (section 24)

(1) The President, on the recommendation of the Commission through Cabinet Secretary, and with the approval of Parliament may by award of Charter, establish

(a) Specialized degree-awarding or research institutions whose mandate shall be of strategic national importance

(b) A national Open University as a specialized university under this section, to offer university programmes through distance and e-learning mode.

(2) The institutions established under this section shall be prioritized by the Commission with respect to accreditation and the development of the governing instruments.

Technical universities (section 25)

On recommendation by the commission, the president may declare an institution as a technical university subject to the guidelines and standards specified by the commission.

In respect to a public institution, such a declaration shall be made with respect to an institution being a National Polytechnic within the meaning of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Act of 2012.


A university outside Kenya that seeks to offer university education in Kenya shall apply to the commission for accreditation. Such a foreign university may enter into an arrangement with a Kenyan university to offer joint programmes or its programmes with prior approval from the commission. Prior to approval from the commission, the foreign university has to submit proof of accreditation from its country.


The commission is funded by; monies allocated by Parliament for the purposes of the Commission; fees and charges for services rendered by the Commission; such monies as may be lawfully earned from income generating activities; and monies granted, donated or lent to the Commission from any other source, with the approval of the Cabinet Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary responsible for finance.


Instruments of governance of universities (section 34)

There are two instruments of governance of universities, which are, the letter of interim authority and/or charter.

Governing organs of a university (section 35)

The organs that govern a university include; a council, a senate and a management board. Their respective functions are addressed in the Act.

Council of a public university (section 36)

The council of a public university or a constituent college shall consist of nine persons appointed by the cabinet secretary as follows;

(a) Chairperson

(b) The Principal Secretary in the Ministry for the time being responsible for the university education

(c) The Principal Secretary in the Ministry for the time being responsible for Finance

(d) Five members appointed by the Cabinet Secretary through an open process in such a manner as may be prescribed in guidelines issued by the Cabinet Secretary

(e) The Vice-Chancellor or, in the case of a constituent college, the principal of such college who shall be an ex officio member of the Council.

The vice chancellor shall be an ex-officio member to the constituent colleges of that university.

Committees (section 37)

The governing organs of the university may create committees that may perform and discharge functions as it may determine. The caveat is, the organs shall not delegate their principal mandate to these such committees.

The Chancellor and Vice Chancellor (section 38 and 39)

The Act dictates that every university shall have a chancellor who, in the case of a public university appointed by the president and in the case of a private university appointed by the charter to the university. The chancellor of a public university shall hold office for a term of five years and is eligible for one further term.

The vice chancellor shall be appointed, in the case of a public institution by the cabinet secretary on the recommendation of the council. In the case of a private institution, he or she shall be appointed by the university council in accordance with the provisions of the charter. The term to hold office of a vice chancellor shall be a term of five years and shall be eligible for renewal of an additional term of five years.


1. Where a vacancy occurs in the office of Chancellor of a public university, the Senate of that university shall, in consultation with the respective alumni association, identify suitable persons for appointment.

2. All names submitted under paragraph 1 shall be vetted by the Senate in accordance with the procedure set out in the Charter, and the Senate shall propose five names of persons deemed to be qualified under the provisions of this Act for purposes of ranking by the alumni association.

3. The names of the five applicants deemed by the Senate to be most suitable for ranking as Chancellor shall be circulated among the alumni of the public university, who shall be requested to rank the applicants in order of preference.

4. The Senate shall forward the names of the top three applicants respectively ranked by the alumni association to the Cabinet Secretary for onward transmission to the President, who shall pick one of the persons so ranked for appointment as Chancellor.

5. The appointment of the Chancellor by the President shall be by notice published in the Gazette.

6. Where a public university is of recent establishment and has no alumni the President shall, from three names recommended by the Cabinet Secretary, appoint the person to be the Chancellor of the university.


Constituent College means a constituent college of a university established under this Act. A constituent college is one that is part of the main university in another location other than the location of the main university.

Open University means the Open University established under section 24. Section 24 (1) (a) states that the President, with recommendation of the Commission through the Cabinet Secretary, and approval of Parliament, may establish a national Open University as a specialized university under this section, to offer university programmes through distance and e-learning mode.

College means an institution of higher learning that offers much limited scope of the programmes it offers.


The Universities Fund and Board of Trustees

The Act states the establishment of a Universities Fund which shall be used to fund universities.

The Fund shall be managed by the board of trustees which shall consist of nine members appointed by the cabinet secretary.

Under section 54A, the Act provides for appointment of a director of the Fund. The director is the chief executive officer of the Fund and shall be responsible for the day to day management of the Fund. The director is appointed by the cabinet secretary with consultation with the commission. The term of the director is five years renewable for one term.


A university council has the power to make such statutes and regulations in order to run the affairs of the university. The statutes and regulations shall be published in a Gazette notice by the university council.


Section 5A provides that in the event of a clash of laws regarding university education, the provisions of the Universities Act shall prevail. Despite the provisions of any other law, section 5A provides that; licensing, recognition, student indexing, approval or accreditation of any university certificates is solely the mandate of the Commission.

Before approving any academic programme, the Commission may consult with a body to which that programme relates. The purpose of this consultation is to ensure approval of the programme by the body to which the programme relates. In relation to licensing, student indexing and approval of university certificates, the Commission may engage professional bodies and associations to conduct inspections in universities on its behalf. It may also engage the Auditor-General to offer professional opinion management and financial position of a certain university.


The Act calls for the establishment of this service that is a corporate body. The service shall be governed by the Placement Board and shall consist of thirteen members.

Under section 56, the functions of the Placement Board shall include, among other things, to collect and retain data relating to university sand college placement, develop career guidance programmes for the benefit of students and also coordinate placement of government sponsored students to universities and colleges.

The Board's Address is:

ACK Gardens, 1st Ngong' Avenue, Upperhill Nairobi

Telephone : 0723954927, 0734879662

Email : [email protected]

Website: kuccps.ac.ke

P. O. Box 105166 – 00101


website: http://www.kuccps.net/


However, under section 57, a university is allowed to admit students independently according to its approved admissions criteria.


Under section 63(1), a University Council is mandated to uphold the rights of a person who is likely to be affected. The Council shall, among other things, inform the person of the nature of allegations made against them. It shall also afford the person time to prepare and present a defense and the opportunity to be heard in person.

The Council may act on general evidence on the person’s character or conduct; and it is not bound by the rules of evidence in the Evidence Act.

The Council shall also dispose any matters before it within six months. Any person having personal interest or outcome in the matter before the committee, shall sit as a member hearing the matter before the committee.


Any person directly or indirectly interested in any contract or any matter before the committee is required by this Act to disclose the interest after commencement of the meeting. The interested person shall also not take part in consideration or discussion or voting of questions of the committee or be counted in the quorum of the matter of interest. This disclosure of interest shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.


Every university shall possess a Mace, Seal and Logo as its instruments of authority. The university shall also keep a common seal in its custody as the Charter may direct and shall not be used except as authorized in the Charter.

Every deed, instrument, contract and other document shall be deemed duly executed on behalf of the university where they are required to be under seal and authenticated by the chairperson of the university council or any other person authorized in the charter. Where such documents and deeds are not required under seal, they shall be deemed duly executed on behalf of the university if executed in that behalf by a member authorized by the Council in the provisions of the Charter. Such deeds or documents shall be effective in law to bind a university and its successors and may be varied or discharged in the same manner as that in which it was executed.

Are universities protected from personal liability? (section 66)

Any member of the university; an officer, employee or agent of the university shall not be held personally liable if the deed done was genuinely in the interest or functions, duties or powers of the university.


Liability for damages. (section 67)

However, lack of personal liability to the agent or officers of the university does not exempt the institution from the liability to pay lawful compensation or damages to any person for an injury to his person or property.

What happens in the event of an offence by a university? (section 68)

Any university that commits an offence in the Universities Act with connivance of any officer of the university or any person who purports to act in the capacity of the university, that person or officer is guilty of the offence.


The Commission may require an institution in default of any provision of the Act to comply with the guidelines and standards within a prescribed time via a comply notice. This comply notice should be in writing.

In the event the institution does not comply with the comply notice, the Commission may close the institution permanently or temporarily until the institution complies with the notice.

Any person who is aggrieved with the decision of the Commission to close permanently or temporarily, may appeal to the Cabinet Secretary within thirty days of the decision.

Regulations (Section 70)

The cabinet secretary may, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders make regulations prescribing anything which under this Act may be prescribed and generally for the better carrying out of the purpose of the Act.

These such regulations may make further provisions on matters such as; issuance, revocation and variation of charters, registration of agents of foreign universities, procedure for approval of academic programmes by the commission, among many other regulations.

Rules (Section 21 of the Universities Act Cap 210B)

The Act dictates that the minister may, in consultation with the commission make rules which shall be used to provide for the following purposes; for the recruitment and terms and conditions of service, pension and other benefits for the employees of the Commission, enabling the Commission to make provisions for the boarding and lodging facilities for students in public universities, prescribing anything which may be prescribed under this Act.




Section 5(5), the Universities Act

Unauthorized licensing, accreditation, auditing, inspection or indexing of students without the commission’s approval

Fine not exceeding two million shillings or two year imprisonment or both.

Section 27, the Universities Act

Unauthorized use of a university name

Fine not exceeding one million shillings or three years imprisonment or both

Section 28 (5), the Universities Act

Accreditation of foreign universities

Fine not less than 10 million shillings or three years imprisonment or both.

Section 69 (1), the Universities Act

Unauthorized offer of university programmes

Fine not exceeding one million shillings. Sum of fifty thousand shillings every day that the offence continues, or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.

Section 69 (2), the Universities Act

General Penalties

Fine not exceeding one million shillings, or imprisonment not exceeding twelve months or both.



University of Nairobi (UON)

Established – 1970

Charted - 2013

Moi University (MU)

Established – 1984

Charted - 2013

Kenyatta University (KU)

Established – 1985

Charted - 2013

Egerton University

Established – 1987

Charted - 2013

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)

Established – 1994

Charted – 2013

Maseno University (Maseno)

Established - 2001

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST)

Established – 2007

Charted - 2013

Dedan Kimathi University of Technology


Chuka University


Technical University of Kenya


Technical University of Mombasa


Pwani University


Kisii University


University of Eldoret


Maasai Mara University


Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology


Laikipia University


South Eastern Kenya University


Meru University of Science and Technology


Multimedia University of Kenya


University of Kabianga


Karatina University


The Commission offices are located at Gigiri, Nairobi Kenya. Correspondences and enquiries should be addressed to:

Commission for University Education

Red Hill Road, off Limuru Road, Gigiri

P.O. Box 54999 – 00200, Nairobi, Kenya.

phone 020–7205000, 020-2021150,
0726-445566, 0717-445566, 0780-656575


fax 020-2021172 (Fax)

email [email protected]


For complaints, use: [email protected]


Website: http://www.cue.or.ke/

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