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Education is a powerful tool that influences the development of one’s social skills, intellectual prowess, and reasoning capacity. It is a major driver of socio-economic development in all nations. This explains why every nation including Kenya and the United Kingdom strives to develop a strong and sustainable education system. According to Deloitte (2015), every country has an education plan that is aimed at promoting quality learning. Countries are keen on developing creative and innovative young people through systematic learning processes in schools and universities. They also aim at nurturing talents and developing professionals in diverse fields of operation or subject areas.
Over the years, the provision of quality education has been a major concern in many nations globally. Global leaders have always developed solid measures to promote universal education to ensure that everyone enjoys the basic right to education. Despite the spirited attempts to provide quality education, especially at higher levels of learning, countries are facing numerous challenges in achieving that goal. The challenges in this respect include but not limited to funding issues, lack of adequate learning materials, poor learning conditions, poor governance, and inadequate funds for research. It is necessary for nations to handle or mitigate the issues highlighted to ensure the realization of the educational objectives. However, these issues have proven almost impossible to fully address for many nations, as they keep occurring year in year out, thereby significantly interfering with the ability of various countries to offer quality education as they would want to.
This paper gives a comparative analysis of the higher education systems in Kenya and the UK. The two nations run their education systems with the aim of equipping their citizens with pertinent skills necessary for socio-economic development (Deloitte, 2015). They have recorded tremendous achievement in their quest to enhance access to quality higher education. They also have expanded their education systems thereby allowing more student admission and enrollment to pursue various courses. They both value higher education and want to see a significant percentage of their respective populations become highly educated.
Despite this progress, Kenya and the UK still have gaps to bridge in terms of funding within their education systems to enable them achieve the higher learning aspirations of their citizens (Clark, 2015). Comparatively, Kenya has not achieved much as compared to the UK given the latter is a developed nation. Kenya faces serious challenges that require more urgent mitigation as compared to the UK. This is evident through the difference in the number of students who join higher learning institutions in the two countries. The UK records a higher number than Kenya. Noteworthy, in Kenya, the opportunity is mostly accorded to the elite. The level of unfairness in the access to higher education in Kenya is far much higher than that in the UK. The less privileged in the East African country are less likely to access higher education given that they cannot afford it. The prevailing situation is such that education in the country, especially higher education, mostly remains the preserve of the well-to-do.
Higher Education Funding In Kenya versus the UK
The higher education systems in Kenya and the UK both face serious funding issues. However, this problem is significantly more pronounced in Kenya than in the UK. It is a real challenge despite the tremendous achievements that have been recorded in terms of the expansion of student admissions to higher learning institutions (Clark, 2015). In Kenya, student admission and access to higher education has increased by over 20%. In the current year, new admissions are expected to expand to over 26% while the UK’s higher learning system has expanded by over 78%.
According to statistics from the Kenyan government and Price Water House Coopers, the higher education system in Kenya faces funding and policy challenges, inadequate research funds, poor course development, and higher levels of corruption (KPMG, 2014). These challenges impede the sustainability of and access to higher education in the country. Many students cannot get enrolled in higher learning institutions and acquire quality education due to these challenges (Johnson, 2016). Statistics indicate that more students qualify for higher education but the problem of capacity that is attributable to low funding is hindering more admissions by the Joint Admission Board.
The Kenyan government only sets aside less than 1% of its entire budget to the higher education system. In the financial year of 2014/2015, the country’s Higher Education Loans Board charged with funding students received only 63 million dollars as compared to the UK’s Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) that was allocated 26.3 billion pounds over the same period (Johnson, 2016). This aspect clearly depicts that the UK government allocates more resources towards higher education compared to the Kenyan government. This in turn results in more students acquiring professional qualifications in UK than in Kenya. This comparison shows that higher education in Kenya is seriously underfunded and something needs to be done as a matter of urgency.
The inefficient higher education system in Kenya is presenting serious repercussions to the education sector. The low funding means that only a few students can access higher education and become resourceful to the nation. It also means that the higher education system will continue to have limited capacity in terms of quality training personnel, infrastructure, and research extension activities (Clark, 2015). With these limitations, the learning environment is always contaminated thereby depriving students the opportunity to have best experiences as compared to the UK system. Most higher learning institutions in the country, especially the over 22 public universities, lack funds to expand their classrooms, lecture theaters, build and stock libraries, and develop well-equipped research centers. These issues affect the quality of higher education in most Kenyan institutions which results in serious doubts about the innovative nature of graduates in the country.
Therefore, the Kenyan situation is largely in contrast to the UK’s situation. The UK government has invested heavily in education at all levels, including at the higher education level. The investment has ensured mitigation of policy challenges, building of quality learning infrastructure, support of many young students who seek to pursue higher education, and quality course development. The funding has equally ensured adequate availability of learning materials, superior support systems such as well-equipped libraries, good lecture halls, and well-trained trainers.
According to a report by KPMG (2014), the progress in higher education system in the UK has never been enough. It has not met the aspirations of all students as it was designed to achieve (Johnson, 2016). This is attributable to the financial challenges that the education sector is equally facing. Currently, the sector lacks adequate funds to streamline its operations and ensure that every student attains higher education through government grants and loans. The government admits that a lot of progress has been made but more still needs to be done. More in terms of setting aside money for higher education grants, expansion of learning institutions, research, and learning materials acquisition. This means that even the UK has serious challenges in its higher education system in spite of being a developed country with well-functioning systems.
Additionally, funding is a problem in Kenya than the UK owing to the high corruption levels within the higher education system in the country. The Kenyan system is characterized by immense corruption and misuse of the resources meant to finance higher education programs. This aspect is not a major issue in the UK as education stakeholders in the country ensure effective utilization of the available resources.
It is safe to conclude that higher education systems in Kenya and the UK both face funding challenges. The challenges threaten to impede realization of the optimal performance levels and sustained world-class higher learning systems in these nations. However, funding challenges are higher in Kenya as compared to the UK. The Kenyan higher education system receives largely inadequate funding from the government as compared to that of the UK. The funding stands at 83 million dollars, compared to the UK’s which is over 26.3 billion pounds. Therefore, the UK’s education system is much more developed than the Kenyan one. Many students in the UK are able to access higher education grants and loans. Universities in the nation are also able to fund their infrastructural development projects, execute research on diverse issues, and perform quality curriculum development. Kenya thus needs more remedy than the United Kingdom in this respect.
Clark, N 2015, Practical information: education in Kenya, World Education News and Reviews, Accessed on 13th Mar. 2016, http://wenr.wes.org/2015/06/education-kenya/
Deloitte, 2015, Making the grade 2015: the key issues facing the UK higher education sector. Accessed on 13th Mar. 2016.
Johnson, J 2016, Access to higher Education, The Gov.uK. https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/access-to-higher-education
KPMG, 2014, Education in Kenya. Accessed on 13th Mar. 2016, https://www.kpmg.com/Africa/en/KPMG-in-Africa/Documents/Kenya.pdf
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