Some equity and efficiency implications of the expansion of higher education in Kenya: the results of a tracer study of University of Nairobi graduates
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This paper synthesizes the results of a study of a sample of 1970, 1975, 1979, and 1983 sociology, chemistry, maths, and commerce graduates from the University of Nairobi. Once traced, participants either completed a written survey or were interviewed concerning their post-graduation work and educational histories and their family backgrounds. Based upon the data generated, it was evident that the labor market for these graduates had become increasingly saturated by 1983. Permanent employment had become more difficult to secure and graduates found their education less necessary to perform the work required of them. When examined by field of study, it was apparent that commerce and hernistry graduates were somewhat insulated from these trends. Academic performance, which had provided virtually no advantage in the first three cohorts, did also appear to mitigate the effects of the competitive job market faced by the 1983 cohort. Similarly, until the 1983 cohort entered the labor force, family background had played an insignificant role. Only under competitive employment conditions was there a hint that family background was a valuable benefit. When examined on the basis of sex, graduates have comparable work experiences with comparable compensation (although there appears to be a functional limit as to how high a woman will be promoted and how much she will be compensated). The findings of this study found little to suggest that the students attending the University of Nairobi were becoming less representative of the Kenyan population as a whole. When comparisons were made with earlier data higner education in Kenya appeared to be a very open system. This, in fact, may be a positive outcome of educational expansion. The paper concludes with a discussion of the equity and efficiency implications of continued university-level expansion. Can expanded numbers of university graduates be absorbed efficiently into the Kenyan economy? Will the continued expansion of university spaces improve or maintain equity?