Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why Kenyans prefer to study abroad

The majority of Kenyans prefer studying or sending their children abroad for higher education, a new study has shown.The survey by Synovate carried out last month shows that 57 per cent of 1,044 respondents sampled prefer foreign universities over local ones due to a perception of high quality standards, prestige, and exposure to life overseas.The respondents also complained of inadequate educational opportunities locally.The study shows that 43 per cent of Kenyans prefer to study locally with more than two thirds of the respondents in Coast and Western regions having the highest preference for overseas education.This was a sharp contrast to the North Eastern where 77 per cent of the respondents said they would rather attend local universities.These results indicate that Kenyan universities, especially public ones, still have some way to go in winning public confidence, said George Waititu, managing director Synovate.Students can also get a lot of exposure while studying in such universities and different course Software Engineering,Mathematical Modelling and Simulation and Mechatronics.

He said that public universities have been plagued by lack of resources due to their reliance on diminishing state funding, though parallel degree programmes have been used to generate some additional income.The issues of congestion, shortage of teaching staff, inadequate facilities, different courses and the resulting perception of poor quality education continue to plague the universities,said Mr Waititu, adding that the government needs to have a deliberate approach to expand the quality and space of local universities.We want to see less and less people studying abroad so that the economy can gain,he said, adding that the low preference for foreign universities in the North Eastern region could be as a result of little exposure and knowledge on foreign education. Generally speaking, the region tends to be poorer than the rest of the country making it more difficult for those in that region to prefer the more expensive universities abroad, he said.

Makini Group of Schools founder and chief executive officer Mary Okello said local universities needed to improve quality so as to tap into the money that locals are spending abroad on higher education.What this study means is that we have to make our degrees more competitive, we need to raise our standards and this will also boost our revenues from university education. Other countries capitalise on their education and make money out of it,said Mrs Okello.As a Kenyan, I would discourage people from going to study abroad at least for the first degree because people are usually too young and it will also save on foreign exchange. for post graduate it is okay and it also gives exposure,she said.

Foreign universities are generally better equipped with facilities and the lure of working opportunities after school also makes them more attractive to Kenyan students.Currently, there is no role modelling and when students finish their education it is like nobody cares about what happens after that. But when they go abroad they find opportunities,said Kenya Private Schools Association national chairman John Kabue Mwai.The management of government resources has also been poor. The government spends so much on the education system but the implementing persons do not maximise those resources,he said, adding that as a result the quality of education comes down.

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