University Of Nairobi Degrees: Just Good in Kenya Not In USA.


It is regarded as one of the best Universities in Africa, where more than 180,000 students have graduated since its inception in 1970, but when one seeks accreditation using the given transcript, one will not qualify to register for any board examination anywhere in the world.

The University of Nairobi was recently ranked position 9 in Africa and 697 in the world ahead of all other universities in the region, thus confirming its place among the academic giants worldwide.

The ranking placed the University among the top universities worldwide out of 720 best-ranked higher learning institutions.- 

The rankings attest to the stiff competitive position the University of Nairobi has steadily maintained worldwide. In short, it has established itself as a world-class university committed to scholarly excellence.

However, those ranking, position, and description of scholarly excellence are all but a misconception, and sheer imagination, for after arriving in a foreign country like Britain or America, that degree certificate one carefully carry along with, is just a piece of useless paper without enough credits to be referred to as a full degree.

For example, the transcript write-up can be challenged by a middle school transcript in the US. After evaluation, the accreditation body advises many to repeat certain subjects as they fall short of the credits required to qualify for a full similar degree in the United States.

Take, for example, a degree in Architecture from the University of Nairobi, which, compared to the same degree in the US, lacks 53 credits after evaluation by NAAB,.. the accrediting body that regulates University education standards in America. (This is not a mere assumption but facts from past experience by Kenyans that have attempted to sit for board examination)

The highly respected Architects trained at the University of Nairobi will not automatically qualify to sit for the board examination in America after evaluation. One has to take extra and different subjects not taught at the University of Nairobi but are mandatory in the US.

Architecture degree in the US requires studying humanities and natural sciences…English and literature included, and one needs nine credits hours to be certified,….something not included in the University of Nairobi Architecture course structure(1976-1983).

Until recently, architecture at the University of Nairobi did not require one to study English, Natural Sciences, and humanities as prerequisites, but the same are mandatory subjects in the US.

Theory of structures studied at the University of Nairobi has a deficiency of 6 credits compared to US structure, …Building Technology has six credits deficiency, and many others like ecology, history of Architecture, and even law in professional practice, to name a few.

The only subject that students qualify for and even have more than the required accumulated hours is design thesis. However, all the courses studied during the five-year program at the University of Nairobi (1974-1983) lacks the minimum requirements according to American standards. (Mostly General Education Requirements)

You will be evaluated after presenting the transcript provided by the University of Nairobi. Still, after scrutinizing, the accrediting body will further advise you to go back to accredited college to gain more credits to qualify for the board examination.

The minimum number of years to rectify the deficiencies for a degree like Architecture accumulates to 53 credits which is two years if you study full-time or even five years with breaks; in short, it is like repeating the entire course.

Many get discouraged or cannot even afford to pay for their education while at the same time surviving and end up giving up …thus resulting in performing meager jobs that are readily available.

Some convince themselves they will do the meager jobs for a limited time but eventually find themselves doing the same odd jobs ten years later.

When you compare Kenyans’ struggle to get registered as professionals in various disciplines in United States, one fails to understand how foreigners, including Americans, get easily registered in Kenya by just taking and passing the simple board examination.

To prove how disorganized lecturers are, the University of Nairobi does not issue detailed transcripts but only a sketchy summary of subjects passed because, in the first place, they have none. (shady, badly typed transcript is all one gets after requesting )

They do not have records of detailed weekly or monthly continuous assessments that students in America quickly obtain and thus cannot produce when requested.

After requesting a transcript from Kenya, all one gets is a summary showing the grade obtained and the grade given as a percentage, thus making it impossible to relate and compare with the credit hours system in America.

A 65% mark in Kenya is a pass, but in America, the same is a fail.

Education must be made universal in terms of subjects taught so that it does not matter which country one comes from if all degree course structures were identical or equivalent to be acceptable anywhere.

The same applies to trained doctors, nurses, commerce students, law and others from the University of Nairobi. After relocating, they all get the same story, and all must repeat specific papers to be allowed to sit for the respective board examination.

Engineers and teachers are also in the same category. One will not automatically sit for PE or get a teaching career in America without repeating the degree or obtaining more required credit hours to qualify.

The University of Nairobi should act without delay to maintain its status and further take time to compare its education curriculum with those of other great Universities to obtain equivalent status.

The above disparities in education equivalence between Kenya and America hint at why immigrant graduates from Kenyan Universities or even other African countries cannot easily transfer their education and be able to get jobs related to the degrees they acquired.

It is sad to imagine that even after studying at Princeton University, the so-called Ivy League, the person entrusted to structure the then University of Nairobi, Professor Josphat Karanja or his counterpart Professor Mungai, never took any initiative to elevate the University to acquire not only accreditation status but degree equivalence with American Universities degree structure.

Those wishing to do Master’s and Ph.D. have no problem fitting into the American University system and will easily qualify, but the problem lies with the Professional Board Examinations.

It is with those few remarks that I further urge the University of Nairobi to streamline the curriculum and raise the institution to universal standards to enable those immigrating to easily transfer their credits and be able to practice in all disciplines anywhere in the world.

If the situation remains the same, the so-referred to as academic giants will be dwarfed the moment they relocate, and it can be traumatizing to receive a disturbing letter from the accrediting board that reads… “we are sorry to inform you that the degree presented falls short of minimum credit hours required.”

Many have voiced their concern, and we are optimistic that the main Universities in Kenya will soon uplift academic standards and eventually liaise with accrediting bodies worldwide so that degrees offered can be evaluated in advance.

***Please note that this equivalence has nothing to do with ISO 9001:2015 Certified Status but respective boards requirements.

Arch Dr. Isaac Kinungi


Kenyan Parents in USA


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