Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Foreign varsities step up recruitment in Kenya

By David Mugwe

Posted  Monday, August 20   2012 at  19:57

Foreign universities, mainly from the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada, have stepped up the marketing of their institutions in Kenya, focusing on students with immigration and financial requirements to study abroad.
Anglia Ruskin University in the UK will be holding information sessions over the next two weeks for September and January intakes.
Others such as Cardiff and the London School of Business and Finance have also sent representatives to meet potential students mainly in major cities.
Uniserv Education and British Canadian International Education centres, which provide free information and assistance on UK university admissions, career counselling and visa guidance, and others such as the International Education Centre have also been running advertisements ahead of the next academic year.
University of Exeter, Queens University Belfast and Newcastle, Manchester Metropolitan, and City are all aiming to recruit students from Kenya.
Richard Bakare, the country development manager for Anglia Ruskin University who is holding information sessions at various locations in Nairobi, said demand for foreign education was high and would continue to rise as more students graduate from high school and universities.
“There is a huge supply of graduates in a market where there is a shortage of jobs. There is a demand for foreign education that is of higher quality that would give graduates an edge in the local market,” said Mr Bakare.
He said many students believe it would be easier for them to be more successful in other countries and probably command higher salaries than they would locally, adding that the country also has a growing number of parents who are willing to pay for foreign education.
“More Kenyans are becoming affluent and they would want to give their children a better start in life. It is obvious that we have a lot of potential but those who choose to study locally are missing out on the exposure,” said Mr Bakare.
Last week, Information and Communications Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo, speaking at a careers and mentorship conference, pointed out that foreign universities had seen potential and opportunities in the country.
The number of candidates sitting for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary School Education (KCSE) and the Kenya Certificate of Primary School Education (KCPE) examinations respectively have remained higher than the combined number of technical institutions and university places available in the country—increasing competition for the available opportunities.
According to the Economic Survey of 2012, a total of 410,586 candidates sat for the KSCE examination, up last year from 271,691 students in 2007 while the number of those enrolled in universities and technical institutions stood at 198,260 and 104,173 last year, up from 118,239 and 76,516 in 2007 respectively.
“We do not have enough opportunities available locally…they see a market,” said Dr Ndemo adding that many secondary school graduates cannot get admission to local universities due to capacity constraints.
Conestoga College, Comox Valley High School and Niagara College in Canada have also sent a representative who has been hosting information sessions about studying and living in the world’s 11th largest economy. Intakes are in January and May next year.
Bhanu Vishishth, president and life coach at Ignite Globally —a Canada based consulting firm—who has been in the country representing the three institutions said Kenyans had become more aware of opportunities available internationally, leading to increasing inquiries.
“We have seen more serious students coming to the education fairs and seminars and the students are more knowledgeable, focused and clear in what they want to do. The Kenyan population is more aware of what is out there for them,” said Mr Vishishth.
He said it can cost an average of between C$10,500 (Sh892,000) and C$12,500 (Sh1.06 million) per year in tuition at a Canadian university and between C$18,000 (Sh1.53 million) and C$21,000 (Sh1.785 million) including living expenses , adding that Canada is one of the few countries that allows foreign students to work for a period of time there after graduation.
Mr Vishishth said there was also a growing number of individuals and families with more disposable income which is making more people invest in international education, adding that some choose to settle abroad while others come back and take advantage of emerging opportunities at home.
Mr Bakare said studying abroad gave students international exposure, which allows them to “see things differently”.
Diamond Trust Bank group chief executive officer and managing director Nasim Devji during a recent online discussion on “My 15 min chat with a bank CEO” that is run weekly by the Kenya Bankers Association, said that while going abroad offers exposure, universities Kenyan universities produce graduates who can ably compete with their counterparts from overseas.
“Going abroad gives general exposure for any career, but in my view a good qualification from a Kenyan university does form a solid base and Kenyans with a good local degree are quite capable. You do not have to go abroad,” said Mrs Devji.
According to Uniserv Education, the average living expenses are about £600 (Sh78,600) per month in London and about £800 (Sh104,800) per month in London while tuition costs could range between £6,000 (Sh786,000) to £20,000 (Sh2.62 million) annually, depending on the course one chooses.

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