1.0 At the Beginning

The Planning, Research and Development (PRD) Division at the Commission for University Education (CUE) is one of the new functional areas established after the Commission assumed a new structure upon the enactment of the new Universities Act 2012. The planning function was initially housed within the Planning, Administration and Finance Division in the earlier structure. It was felt that the mandate of the Commission had a big planning and research component yet these functions tended to be overshadowed by the finance and administration functions. To alleviate this problem, this Division was created in August 2013.

1.1  Functions of the Division

The functions of this Division are to;

 Promote Quality University Research, Innovation and industry linkages in Kenya;

  1. Advise the Cabinet Secretary on University Education Policy issues;
  2. Spearhead Monitoring and Evaluation of University Education systems in relation to national development goals;
  3. Provide leadership on formulation of the Commission’s Research and Innovation agenda;
  4. Formulate and review the Commission’s Development and Resource Mobilization Strategies;
  5. Develop Policy for Criteria and Requirements for Admissions to Universities in Kenya;
  6. Collect, Disseminate and Maintain data on University Education in Kenya; and
  7. Develop and manage the commission’s Performance Management systems (Performance contracting, strategic planning and ISO certification).

 2.0 Departments within the Division

 The Division has two Departments: 

  1. Planning and Resource Mobilization (PRM); and
  2. Research and Development (RD).

 2.1 Planning and Resource Mobilization (PRM)

This Department performs the functions of data collection, analysis and documentation; analysis and review of the Commission’s policies, strategies and programs; provision of technical advice on critical cross cutting management issues to the commission; undertaking studies on the impacts of social-economic changes in the country on university education; monitoring and evaluation of CUE Research Projects; Coordination of long term planning and development of University Education in Kenya; setting project priorities and ensuring optimal resource utilization; Development and implementation of the commission’s Annual work plan, performance management systems (performance contracting and ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management systems); Coordinating the development, implementation and review of CUE’s strategic plan, mobilizing resources and managing linkages and partnerships geared towards the promotion of University Education, Managing the education management and research information management systems (RIMS) for university education and research and coordination of University admissions.

2.2 Research and Development (RD)

This department is tasked with the following functions: Conducting research on critical issues in university education; preparation of research funding proposals in support of university education; conducting relevant manpower surveys an studies; publishing and disseminating research findings on university education and research; formulation, implementation and review of university research policies and strategies; liaising with government, university, industry, development partners and research institutions locally and internationally to develop an efficient and effective university research agenda for the country; mobilizing funds and resources to support CUE’s and university research; promoting and strengthening the research arm of the commission; developing the capacities of universities and the CUE in fundraising, project management, report and scientific writing, monitoring and evaluation of Research Projects; ensure that universities offer quality postgraduate research training, improved research projects management, develop and implement policies on plagiarism and open access; asses and align university research with the national development agenda including vision 2030.

3.0 Research at Kenyan Universities

The world over universities are responsible for research, knowledge generation, scholarship and innovation that is necessary for driving local social, technological and economic development. They are also relied upon to serve as conduits for the transfer, adaptation and dissemination of knowledge that is generated worldwide. Kenyan universities are facing renewed external and internal pressure as the push for them to meet the changing needs of the country become more [pronounced. The country is quickly moving towards a knowledge-based economy and there is urgent need for new products and services. This raises the need for good coordination of university research to facilitate a process of national dialogue on what information exists in the country, its storage and utilization as well as setting the agenda for future research to address our national development goals and dilemmas. Given the high cost of research, questions are now being asked about the relevance and impact of university on national development especially in developing countries.

3.1 Challenges facing University Research in Kenya

 The following challenges have been found to face university Research in Kenya; 

  1. Low levels of funding by the universities and Government
  2. Lack of research infrastructure; laboratories and equipment
  3. Lack of qualified human resources
  4. Universities spreading too thin; lack of geographical and thematic focus.
  5. Rapidly expanding privately sponsored teaching programs that are pulling academic staff away from research into teaching only
  6. Poor University-Industry linkages; hence undermining the relevance of teaching programs and low levels of university research funding by industry.
  7. Poor implementation of policies on intellectual property rights, research ethic, plagiarism and open access to information.
  8. Poor alignment of university research to national development goals and aspirations
  9. Poor management, supervision, monitoring and evaluation of university research programs.
  10. Low impact of university research and its utilization at the national level.

3.2 Strategic issues for improving research at Kenyan universities

Improving access to research infrastructure: libraries, laboratories and ICT. 

  • Improved research funding and capacity: proposal writing, research project management, report writing, scientific communication.
  • Improving collaboration and linkages: local, regional and international. University-industry linkages, science parks and research support.
  • Intellectual property: creative works, inventions and innovations; commercialization of the same.
  • Outreach, dissemination, benchmarking and stakeholder involvement in setting the agenda and dissemination of university research products.
  • Data on universities, university research and its utilization in policy making and national development.

4.0 Activities in the Division

4.1 Research projects

The Division has been involved in a number of research initiatives. These include

  1. The NICHE project. This is a capacity building project funded by the Dutch through NUFFIC. It has a training component that is offering a total of 9 PhD scholarships to CUE staff. This is meant to expand the Commission’s capacity to handle its recently increased mandates. The PhD scholarships are the areas of: Gender and Diversity, tracer/Employer studies, E-governance, ranking and rating of universities, monitoring of university education, quality assurance/Credit accumulation and transfer, Qualification frameworks student experience and management information sciences. The project also involves training of Commission staff and Board on corporate Governance, Quality assurance, ranking and rating and tracer and employer studies.
  2. The bed space project- CUE is partnering with Housing finance and the French Development Agency to construct hostels in universities with a view of creating a 200,000 bed capacity in the sector. It is to be funded by the French and the lending is to be done through Housing finance corporation of Kenya (HFCK). CUE is playing an advisory, oversight and facilitator role.
  3. The tracer study project- which has been spearheading a study on where students from various Kenyan universities are working after they complete their studies.
  4. Needs assessment survey– on expansion of university education in Kenya. Following the promulgation of the new constitution in 2010 and implementation of the devolved system of Government in Kenya, there has been need to expand and align university education to these new realities. The commission has completed a study on current and future needs of university education in Kenya.
  5. Quality Post Graduate Research Training

Over the last few years, the Commission has been carrying out research on the Quality on post graduate research Training in Kenya. It has been looking at issues of admission, course work, supervision, thesis preparation and dissemination of research work that emanates from student training. The Commission has developed a policy document, guidelines and regulations on Post graduate research training (masters and doctoral) in Kenya.

  1. Role of University Education on national development

       In the year, 2015, the Commission  begun to carry out research to document the role of university education on Kenya’s national Development.

  2. Integrity and Ethics in research

       In 2016, the Commission commissioned study on integrity and ethics in University research. The study sought to inform the development of policy and guidelines for the same.

  3. Other Research projects

      In future there are plans to carry out studies on the impact of satellite campuses on the quality of University education in Kenya.

5.0 Ongoing projects and Data collection

The Division endeavours to collect data on universities in Kenya. This includes:

  1. Data on enrolment at various levels of university education, academic staff qualifications and specializations, counties where students come from and the link between programs on offer at Kenyan universities vis a vis national development goals and needs. Data for 2017 has been collected from all public and private universities. The Commission is now in the process of automating the data collection process.
  2. Gender and Diversity at Public Universities in Kenya

6.0 The Universities Research and Training Centre (URTC)

The Commission has plans to develop the above facility to support large meetings and conferences for universities and other industry players. The preliminary phase of designs has been completed and construction is planned to start soon.

7.0. Fund Raising

Working with various development partners the Commission is working on a number of project proposals. These include construction and management of students hostels and expansion of learning infrastructure for schools of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (French development bank), researchcapacitybuilding (world Bank), sustainable data collection for improved quality (African development bank), Capacity building in research Training (DFID) and Doctoral scholarships (DAAD).

8.0 Performance Management

The Division is charged with the management of the performance management portfolio of the Commission. It is now developing the CUE Strategic Plan 2019 to 2023. It also directs the process of developing annual work plans, performance contracts, as well as their implementation and management. It also manages the ISO processes and systems of the Commission.

9.0 Policies

The Division oversees policy development at the Commission. The Commission has developed and is implementing a number of policies. These include; the Research Management policy, policy on appointment and promotion of university academic staff (available at, resource mobilization policy etc.

10.0 Strategic Plan
The Division has been championing the implementation of CUE's Strategic Plan 2019 - 2023. The Division is carrying out quarterly monitoring of the progress on implementation of the Strategic Plan.

11.0 Conferences and Meetings

The Commission  organizes and holds a biennial conference on the state of university education in Kenya. In 2020, the focus was on positioning technology & quality university education in an age of disruption.  

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