KUCCPS expose placement practices and oversights that have cost students their dream jobs
Poor choices that cost students their ideal careers include the pressure and desire to study at top universities, as well as the failure to carefully weigh competitive programs when making choices.
Students with outstanding grades may still be left out if they continue to choose top courses at top universities while neglecting other options, as this reduces their chances of being placed.
It was discovered that failing to compare their scores to the overall performance of students in national examinations led to incorrect course selection.
Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) has exposed the placement practices and oversights that have lost students their dream jobs.
The procedure begins with universities and colleges announcing their available capacities, according to KUCCPS Chief Executive Mercy Wahome.
The Commission for University Education (CUE) evaluates and approves the capacities of universities based on a variety of criteria.
This is because, while some colleges may announce more spaces, they lack the means to support the large numbers of students who require lecture halls, laboratories, and library facilities.
“Once CUE has vetted the capacities, they advise us on the optimum numbers in universities and this is what we use to place students,” said Wahome.
Between January and March, KUCCPS opens the site for KCSE candidates to apply for courses.
“This is where students start making mistakes as most of them consecutively pick high-ranking courses and do so only in top universities, which are very competitive,” said Wahome.
When it comes to applications, students have a total of Eighteen options. 6 degree programs, 4 diploma programs, and a similar number of craft certificate programs are available. For artisan certificate courses, there are four further alternatives.
Candidates for degrees are expected to select their top four courses in order of preference. The first option has three slots for the same program (in three different universities).
This is intended to improve candidates’ chances of getting into their top-choice course.
Candidates must choose any other course in the order of their preference for selections two, three, and four.
According to the KUCCPS director, students only take seriously their first three courses when applying, but pick any other courses for the other slots without much thinking, only to fill the gaps.
This is dangerous according to Wahome because the first-choice courses are typically competitive, and if they miss out on them, they simply end up with the other options they picked up only to fill in the gaps.
She claims that submitting engineering courses across all four choices, or choosing medical as the first choice, then nursing, engineering, and architecture means that if a candidate fails the first choice, they are sure to fail the others.
When comparing their cluster weights to previous cut-off points, most students, according to Wahome, fail to take into account the relative performance of candidates in their year.
KUCCPS compares students’ scores against overall performance during placement, according to Wahome, and this is what determines the weighted cluster point.
For example, four subjects are considered for medicine courses: English, Mathematics, Chemistry, and Biology, and a B in these disciplines is the minimum required.
The cluster weight is calculated by comparing a student’s performance in the four subjects to their overall performance, according to Wahome.
To generate a merit list, the students’ cluster weights are then listed downwards based on their performance.
For example, if a student who received A’s in all four required subjects for medicine has a cluster weight of 45.000, the next score is 49.999, followed by 49.998, 49.997, and 49.996.
Wahome explained that the students’ merit list is produced in this order till KUCCPS completes available capacity for Medicine at that university.
“If the University of Nairobi capacity for Medicine category is 400, a line is drawn at that point.
A line is drawn at the point where the University of Nairobi’s capacity for the Medicine category is 400.
Wahome explained that if the 400th student on the University of Nairobi’s created merit list has a cluster weight of 43.001, that is the university’s medicine cut-off point.
This means that if 1000 people qualified and applied for medicine at the university, the remaining 600 people will be unable to enroll in the program.
Depending on the capacity and number of candidates for the program, the cut-off point for medicine at the University of Nairobi may differ from that at Kenyatta University.
According to her, a merit list for each program is established in this manner for all universities.
Wahome indicated that students who lost out at the University of Nairobi after the cut-off line was created, even if they received an A, could not be placed in the following university’s Medicine program at this stage.
This is because other students in other universities made that subject their first choice and were given preferential treatment. As a result, students will wait until revision, when they will have another opportunity to change courses and the same placement method will be followed.
Wahome stated that a student’s preference plays an important part in placement and that candidates are given precedence based on their top choices.
“Even if you score an A, but you missed on your first choice, you cannot be given priority over someone who made your second choice their first option,” said Wahome.
She said that the grade A student’s third selection could also be someone’s first or second pick, thus those students are placed first before the grade A student.
This explains why a student with an A (plain) average fails to get into a medicine degree at one university while another with an A- (minus), B+, or even a B (plain) gets a shot at another.
She claims that these applicants who received an A (plain) but are unable to enroll in medicine courses do not receive first priority because other students have made their second option their first.
“This procedure is done for all other courses and priority is given to first choices made by candidates. But those who lose in the first round always have a chance to revise their courses,” she said.
One error students make during the application process and review, according to Wahome, is to focus solely on top colleges and courses.
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She claims that if students are not directed during revision, they will apply for competitive courses even though they are not properly qualified.
According to KUCCPS, the number of applicants accepted into a specific program is determined on the basis of merit and a candidate’s choices.