Graduate Education: Overview

With the recent explosion of Kenyan Universities the demand for Masters and PhD holders has driven the demand for postgraduate education. Research institutions are looking for support staff with applied knowledge of statistics and mathematics and researchers themselves recognise their own need to update their research methods skills. This puts great strain on universities to provide postgraduate training in a variety of areas both to train future lecturers and to satisfy the growing need for skills in the work place. The education is further strained by the fact that due to the high demand for skilled labor and scarcity of scholarships students almost always hold down a full time job while doing their postgraduate education.

The need for postgraduate training to serve both the academic and the professional world causes difficulty the world over. There are no easy solutions as most academics focus the training on what they perceive as the needs of future academics, this is also the easier option as this is their own area of expertise, but that leaves the professionals without the skills they need. On the other hand an education which focuses on the professional skills is often considered a terminal degree which does not allow for progression within academia. A potential solution to this is the creation of an academic progression within subject areas which are generally perceived as being professional.

The inclusion of professional skills as part of an academic training is recognised internationally. In the UK for example the influential ‘Roberts report’ led to the inclusion of transferable skills as a component of British PhD’s at all institutions. In Kenya there is the need for potentially an even broader skill set for Doctoral graduates as they are quickly thrown into positions of responsibility within institutions. They are also expected to teach a much broader range of subjects than international colleagues.