Lecturers without PhD are living in denial

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The court may have dismissed the demand by universities of having a doctoral degree to lecture at the institutions, but lecturers without a PhD will soon be isolated and could stagnate in one position for a long time.

Truth be told, the situation on the ground is different. Just like any other business organisation, universities develop and implement their internal policies or statutes to guide them on enhancing the requisite quality standards to achieve their short- and long-term goals.

The core businesses of the university are teaching and research. The research component is key to the country’s economic development and readiness to tackle economic challenges.

Lecturers and postgraduate students are integral parts of the research team.

In most universities around the world, lecturers without a doctoral degree are not allowed to start research laboratories, pursue their own research and advance their careers in academic science.


This implies that non-PhD lecturers are prohibited from supervising master’s or doctorate students.

This policy ensures that the quality of postgraduate degrees awarded by Kenyan universities is not compromised.

One of America’s founding fathers and the country’s fourth president, Mr James Madison, once said that “knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives”.

Let these words of wisdom inspire the lecturers without PhD to work hard for the qualification. In fact, this is the only way for them to advance their careers.

A common trend in the human resources recruitment process today is that universities are employing individuals who already have all the skills for a job as well as state-of-the-art knowledge required to use those skills effectively. Most of those individuals are PhD holders.

This is unlike in the past, where employers would hire non-PhD holders and then train them by giving them incentives such as paid study leave, fee waivers and partial scholarships.

Apparently, higher education in Kenya is experiencing increased demand with more students attending vocational training centres (TVET), colleges and universities yet government support is declining.

Hence, universities are not receiving enough capitation in order to offer such incentives as partial scholarships and paid leave.

Furthermore, the National Research Foundation (NRF) has not released research grants for the past two financial years. That means only established scholars can source funds from international funding bodies.

Non-PhD holders’ access to funds is limited to postgraduate students. Cases of non-PhD lecturers attracting grants or becoming principal investigators in internationally funded projects are quite rare.

The prospects of newly recruited young staff at universities starting their research groups and advancing in their academic career is higher compared to old non-PhD holders.

The promotion of young PhD staff to management positions based on merit is likely to isolate lecturers without PhDs. The court ruling does not, therefore, relieve the lecturers’ pressure of attaining a PhD.

The non-PhD lecturers should forever be their own governors and arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

Dr Manyali is Dean of the School of Science at Kaimosi Friends University College. [email protected]

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