In Kenya, there are, at least, two moments that define a learner’s career option. The first is when the KCPE results are released by the Ministry of Education. Every top performer wants to grace the covers of the leading newspapers. I also wanted to have my name criss-cross the screen of every television set in Kenya.
“I want to be a neurosurgeon…”
“I want to be a doctor…”
“I want to be an engineer…”
The list of the most colourful, most glorious and revered professions would go on and on. I hardly hear any student say they want to be an architect or even a quantity surveyor. I am still waiting for that class 8 graduate kid who will specifically say that they want to be a “Consulting Civil and Structural Engineer with a bias for façade engineering in towers”.
The second moment is after the KCSE results are released. Rarely does one spot faces and names that surfaced four years prior. The excitement that often accompanies the sterling performance is barely a fraction of the energetic class 8 students. The star students speak with confidence and they are certain that they will land the courses of their dreams.
“I am going to do medicine and eventually specialize in malignancies such as myeloma and oesophageal cancers” a bright chap would quip. I am yet to hear an A-student say that they are going to study landscape engineering. Few would mention architecture. QS. Few would. Construction Management. None. But you still find them in classrooms and lecture theatres on campus.
Anyway, this article is for those seeking to find courses offered in Kenyan universities that are relevant to the construction industry. It is worth noting that there are many colleges and universities, public and private that offer courses that may or may not be relevant to the practice of a given field. We have narrowed down to 6 universities that are, in our opinion, leading in the quality (and popularity) of the most coveted courses in Kenya’s Built Environment. It is important, however, that one verifies the recognition and accreditation of some of the courses offered in these and many other colleges and universities before enrolling for a course.
Architectural studies are one of the long-standing undergraduate courses in Kenyan universities today. It takes 6 years to complete the curriculum set out for architectural students. That is, of course, assuming that one does not quit or repeat. At the University of Nairobi, the course, which is taught at the ADD Building, is split into two parts: after the initial 4 years one attains a Bachelor of Architectural Studies.
Thereafter, one has to undergo a further 2 yearlong study in order to obtain the Bachelor of Architecture degree. This is what is referred to a two-tier programme. A similar programme is applicable in Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). The difference is that one earns a Bachelor of Architecture Technology after 4 years and then a Masters of Architecture after a more two years.
The Technical University of Kenya (TUK) also offers various courses in Architecture. At TUK, one can pursue a Certificate in Architectural Draughtsmanship. A draughtsman is a trained technical person who prepares architectural drawings, usually, under the watchful eye of the architect or an engineer. At TUK, one can also pursue a Diploma in Technology in Architecture for three years. Those seeking to enrol for an undergraduate degree can sign up for the two-tier programme Bachelor of Architectural Studies and Master of Architecture which spans 6 years. Alternatively, you can still apply for a Bachelor of Technology in Architecture that is earned after four (4) years.
When I told some of my friends and family members that I had selected a course called Bachelor of Quantity Surveying, most would look at me and ask: “Are you going to be one of those guys who ‘measure’ parcels of land?” My response would be simple: “No, those are just plain Surveyors or Land Surveyors. I think I will help you determine how much money and material you would need for your construction project” That would not be an unsatisfactory answer to most. I also knew almost nothing about the course, but I still marched onwards. Currently, there are three institutions that offer academic programmes in Quantity Surveying.
At the University of Nairobi, the Bachelor of Quantity Surveying is offered by the university’s Department of Real Estate and Construction Management housed at the ADD Building along State House Road. The duration of the course is 4 years. Previously, the course was offered as a BA in Building Economics. At JKUAT, the Quantity Surveying course is offered by the university’s School of Architecture and Building Sciences. At the Technical University of Kenya (TUK) you can apply to undertake either a Diploma in Quantity Surveying or a Bachelor of Quantity Surveying degree offered by TUK’s Department of Construction Economics and Management. Typically, the course takes 4 years.
Civil and Structural Engineering (CSE)
Structural Engineers have been blamed left, right and centre whenever building comes tumbling down. This blame is motivated by the fact that they are responsible for ensuring that all the structures are structurally sound and that contractors adhere to stipulated building standards.
At JKUAT, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Civil and Structural Engineering offered by JKUAT’s Department of Civil Engineering. At the University of Nairobi, the same course is provided courtesy of College of Architecture and Engineering’s School of Engineering. Another alternative is the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) where the BSc in Civil and Structural Engineering can be studied. TUK, on the other hand, offers a Diploma in Civil Engineering in addition to Bachelor in Engineering (BEng.) in Civil Engineering. Like in TUK, the CSE course is a Bachelor of Engineering course, BEng. Civil and Structural Engineering.At the Kenyatta University, you can still enroll for a BSc in Civil Engineering.
The undergraduate degree courses in Civil and Structural Engineering usually take 5 years to complete.
Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (M&E)
In the built environment, M&E engineers are widely referred to as Service Engineers. At the University of Nairobi’s School of Engineering, you can earn a BSc degree in Mechanical Engineering or a BSc degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. The same applies to JKUAT. At Moi University, students earn a BEng degree in Mechanical and Production Engineering or a BEng in Electrical and Communication Engineering. The study of these two fields are referred to as BSc in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and BSc in Electrical and Communications Engineering at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST).
At the Kenyatta University, students can enroll for the 5-year course and earn a BSc. Electrical and Electronics Engineering. The university also runs a course in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
It is important to note that the M&E fields have many areas of specialization. Some specialties such as plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) are more relevant to construction than the other specialties which are applicable in the manufacturing or aviation sectors.
The role of construction managers is becoming more pronounced in today’s construction. Kenyan universities have introduced courses that aim at training and equipping the new professionals. Currently, three universities are leading in the provision of undergraduate degrees in Construction Management. The University of Nairobi, JKUAT and TUK. However, only TUK is offering a Diploma in Construction Management course.
The course was previously referred to as Land Economics especially at the University of Nairobi. The BA in Land Economics course was renamed Bachelor in Real Estate (BRE) and its curriculum slightly modified to cater for newer units that would, in turn, enable the graduates meet and address emerging issues. At the UoN, you can also pursue a Diploma in Estate Agency and Property Management. These courses are offered by the university’s Department of Real Estate and Construction Management.
The Technical University of Kenya (TUK) introduced a similar course in their School of Architecture and Built Environment. There is also a Diploma in Technology in Real Estate and Property Management offered at TUK.
The Real Estate courses encompass training in areas of agency, property valuation, land management, property management and facilities management.
Urban and Regional Planning
This course is almost unheard of even within some areas of the universities – let alone in the public domain. At least that was when I was in university, when some of my acquaintances had no clue that there was such an academic programme. It explains why they classes are relatively small. Though the practitioners operate almost silently, we feel the impact of their decisions in our day to day plans. Planners are involved in every decision regarding infrastructural development, environmental planning and urban designs.
For a long time, the University of Nairobi’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning has been awarding BA in Urban and Regional Planning to students after four years. This is a unique course in that, time is split between the classrooms, studios and in field visits.
Later, the Technical University of Kenya (TUK) introduced two undergraduate courses in this field. The Bachelor in Built Environment (BBE) in Urban Design and Development and BBE in Urban and Regional Planning. TUK also offers a Diploma in Technology in Urban and Regional Planning.
Landscape Architecture is a relatively new field in Kenya. Landscape have been with us all along. Whenever you visit establishments with well-manicured lawns and hedges complemented with colourful water and rock features, then you can be sure that a Landscape Architect has been utilized.
At the moment, JKUAT is the leading university in Kenya in training landscape architects. You will be awarded a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture at the end of five years.
Our coverage is not conclusive. We have only covered some of the undergraduate courses in some of the leading universities in Kenya where schools and colleges of engineering and built environment have been set up. There are emerging colleges and universities where some of these courses are offered. However, due diligence must be exercised to ensure that the course is recognized and acknowledged by relevant authorities, especially the professional registration bodies like The Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors (BORAQS), The Engineers Board of Kenya and The Valuers Registration Board.
Have we left out any institution or course worth mentioning? Let us know.