Rethinking Higher Education: The Rise of Online Courses and the Need for Regulation in Kenya


The rise of online courses has been a game-changer for education across the world. Kenya is no exception, with many Kenyan youths opting for online courses over the traditional four-year degree programs. The flexibility and accessibility of online courses have made them an attractive option for those seeking higher education. However, with this rise in popularity comes the need for regulation to ensure the quality of education and protect students’ rights. This article will explore the rise of online courses in Kenya, how they should be regulated, and whether they should be considered universities or equivalents.

The Rise of Online Courses in Kenya:

Online courses have been on the rise in Kenya for the past decade, and their popularity has increased significantly in recent years. According to a survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the number of students taking online courses in Kenya increased by 115% between 2014 and 2018. This increase can be attributed to the growing demand for flexible and accessible education, especially among working adults.

Online courses in Kenya range from short-term certificate programs to full-fledged degree programs. Many of these courses are offered by international universities and colleges, while others are offered by local institutions. The cost of online courses in Kenya varies, with some courses being free while others require a fee.

Regulating Online Courses in Kenya:

The rise of online courses in Kenya has brought to the fore the need for regulation to ensure quality education and protect students’ rights. The Ministry of Education in Kenya has taken steps to regulate online courses by introducing guidelines that all online courses must adhere to. These guidelines cover areas such as course content, delivery, assessment, and accreditation.

One of the challenges of regulating online courses in Kenya is the lack of a clear regulatory framework. Currently, online courses are not regulated under any specific legislation, which makes it difficult to enforce the guidelines introduced by the Ministry of Education. Additionally, there is a need to ensure that the institutions offering online courses in Kenya are credible and offer quality education.

Should Online Courses be Considered Universities?

With the rise of online courses in Kenya, there has been a growing debate on whether they should be considered universities. The Kenyan government has not yet made a clear determination on this matter, but some argue that online courses offer the same quality of education as traditional universities and should be treated as such.

However, others argue that online courses cannot replace the traditional university experience. While online courses offer flexibility and accessibility, they lack the personal interaction and networking opportunities that come with attending a physical university. Additionally, many traditional universities offer hands-on learning experiences that cannot be replicated through online courses.


The rise of online courses in Kenya has revolutionized education and made it more accessible to many people. However, the lack of regulation in this space poses a risk to students’ rights and the quality of education. There is a need for the Kenyan government to introduce a regulatory framework for online courses to ensure that they meet the same standards as traditional universities. Whether or not online courses should be considered universities is a topic of debate, but what is clear is that they offer an alternative to traditional higher education and should be treated with the same level of seriousness.

Mumo Ndunda.

Mount Kenya University Law Review

LLB Candidate, Mount Kenya University School of Law

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