Influence of Strategic Institutional Parameters on the Growth of Academic Institutions in the Context of One Selected Public University in Kenya


African Research Journal of Education and Social Sciences, Vol. 1, 2014


Mercy Chizi Mwadziwe

<Department of Commerce and Economics, School of Human Resource Development, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology- Mombasa Campus, P.O Box 31-00600, Nairobi- E-mail: mmerceme@gmail.com >

Fred Mugambi Mwirigi

<Director, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Mombasa Campus, P.O Box 81310-80100, Mombasa – Kenya. Email: fmgambi@gmail.com>


Abstract:

In order to manage the organizations effectively and to enhance their growth, strategic planning on key institutional parameters is essential. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of strategic institutional parameters on the growth of academic institutions in the context of one selected public university in Kenya. The study sought to establish the influence of the mode of study,  university programmes, resource allocation and stakeholders’ involvement on growth of the selected university. The study employed mixed research design. Stratified random and purposive sampling procedures were used to select a representative number of respondents, who included the director, deputy director, registrar, 10 lecturers and 50 students. In total there were sixty three (N=63) respondents out of whom forty (40) responded. Questionnaire, interview and document analysis methods of data collection were used. The collected data were analyzed using quantitative and qualitative approaches. Quantitative data were analyzed with the held of SPSS. Qualitative data on the other hand was reported in a narrative form. From the analysis, the study revealed that the strategic planning of various institutional parameters including the university mode of study, university programmes, resource allocation and stakeholders’ involvement, had a direct impact on the growth of the academic institution. The study suggested the adoption of strategic planning as a management tool that can be used to address strategic institutional issues which hinder effective realization of academic institutions’ strategic objectives.

Key words: Academic institutions strategic planning, Academic institutional growth, Academic Institutions programmes, Academic Institutional strategic planning, planning for university growth, Academic institutional growth issues, addressing strategic academic institutional issues, university students’ enrollment, university programs impact, university study modes impact, university study mode impact, university stakeholders’ involvement impact


 1. Introduction

University education has experienced a notable shift from the time it began in Kenya in 1963, with 571 students enrolled in Nairobi University College (Weidman, 1995). Initially, public universities used to be free with the government catering for both tuition and living expenses with a view of creating highly trained Manpower. Universities were established through an act of parliament as the Kenyan government realized the need for higher education. University education has, however, undergone tremendous changes since inception (Ngolovoi, 2006). The need to regulate, coordinate and assure quality in higher education was felt in Kenya as a result of the rapid growth and expansion experienced in the sub-sector prior to the establishment of the Commission for Higher Education (CHE) in 1985.  Registration, categorization, standardization, validation, harmonization and supervision of universities are done by CHE, which has since transformed to Commission for University Education (CUE) (CUE, 2012).

The need for public universities in Kenya to remain relevant and competitive among the ever increasing private universities has led to a dire need for strategic planning in most public universities. In today’s highly competitive business environment, budget-oriented planning or forecast-based planning methods are insufficient for these public universities to survive and prosper. Public universities need strategic planning to enable top management to align the resources they have in the most efficient manner so that their objectives can be achieved, while they remain competitive. In order to manage the public universities effectively and to enhance their growth, examination of key institutional operation’s parameters and strategic planning is essential (Abagi, 1995). Given this, the study intended to examine the influence of key strategic institutional parameters on the growth of academic institutions in the context of one selected public university in Kenya. The selected institution, having gone through strategic planning, was deemed to provide a typical case for examining various institutional strategic parameters, including mode of study, university programmes, university resource allocation and stakeholders’ involvement, which are likely to influence the growth of an academic institution.

2. Methodology

In this study, mixed research design, which employed both quantitative and qualitative approaches (Creswell, 2003) was used. Stratified random and purposive sampling procedures were used to select a representative number of respondents, who included the director, deputy director, registrar, 10 lecturers and 50 students from one selected institution of higher learning. In total, there were sixty three (N=63) respondents out of whom forty (40) responded.

Questionnaire and interview guides were used as the key data collection instruments. The researcher administered questionnaire to the students. On the other hand, structured interviews with key respondents, who included the director, deputy director and the registrar, were also used for the purpose of gathering in-depth information. Data were gathered from both primary and secondary sources.

The collected data were analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative data analysis approaches. The quantitative data generated from the students’ questionnaire were analyzed with the help of SPSS. This enabled the researcher to easily present the findings in frequencies and percentages. Tables were mainly used to summarize the analyzed data. On the other hand, the qualitative data obtained from the interview were reported in a narrative form. The qualitative data were used for reinforcing the quantitative data.

3. Results

3.1 Background Characteristics

The number of male compared to female respondents was higher than that of the female. Majority, 62.5% were male while 37.5% were female students.

The study found that majority of students, (20) were aged between 21 and 30 years. There were however, a few of them (12) who were between 18 to 20 years. This could be attributed to the changes in years of school entrance. In terms of the students’ level of education, it was found that there were twenty two undergraduate students, ten Master’s Students who took part in the study.

Out of the five lecturers who took part in the study, three were male while the remaining tow were female. Two of them worked full-time and, three others worked as part time lecturers. All had a working experience exceeding five years.  For the purpose of strategic positioning, a good number of universities are recruiting part time lectures.

There were three management staff members who took part in the study who included the director, deputy director and registrar. Two of them were male while only 1 was a female. Two of them indicated that they were involved in the strategic planning process during the set-up of the institution.

3.2 The Extent to which Strategic Planning of the Mode of Study Influences the Growth of an Institution

This study sought to find out the extent to which strategic planning on the mode of study led to an increase in students’ enrollment in the study institution.  The study revealed that the institution took on students in the Self Sponsored Students Programs (SSP). In this mode of study, enrollments are not pegged on Joint Admission Board (JAB), and one applies to the institution directly. As a result, the study revealed that students applied to the institution at a time that is convenient for their studies. The institution had full-time students most of whom were pursuing their first degree. The institution had also evening classes’ mode of study, which mostly catered for the working class individuals. This covered both undergraduate and Masters Level. There were also weekend classes, which catered for the post graduate level students. According to the management, strategic planning of this mode of mainly contributed to the growth of the institution in terms of enrollment.

In order to get an overall picture of the impact of strategic planning of the mode of study on institutional growth, the students were asked to indicate to which extent it influenced.  Figure 1 shows their distribution.

Figure1 Influence of university mode of study

Majority of the students, (62.5%) indicated that the mode of study did influence their enrolment in the institution to a greater extent and therefore, the growth of the institution. This was further supported by a few of the students (15%) who agreed that their enrollment in the institution was influenced by the mode of study to some extent. Thus, the study concluded that the strategic adoption of the mode of study by institutions of higher learning enhances the growth of an institution.

3.3 Influence of Strategic Design and Implementation of Programmes on the Growth of an Institution

This study sought to establish the influence of strategic programmes’ design and implementation on the growth of the institution under study. Table 1 shows the distribution of students pertaining to the influence of programmes’ design and implementation on growth of the institution.

Table 1 Influence of university programmes on growth

As shown by the Table 1, majority of the respondents (62.5%) strongly agreed that the program offered did influence their enrollment in the institution. However, a few of them (12.6%) either disagreed or strongly disagreed that their enrollment to the institution was directly influenced by the program offered.

Concerning the duration of the programme, a vast majority of students, (71.9%) either strongly agreed or agreed that it did influence their enrollment to the institution and therefore, its growth. However, slightly more than a quarter (28.1%) of them differed implying that the duration did not necessarily influence their enrollment.

The management on the hand also agreed that the number of programmes offered at the institution under study had risen from 4 at its inception to about 22. However, it was noted that the number of programmes is yet to be increased, and plans are underway to do so.

3.4 Influence of Strategic Resource Allocation on the Growth of an Institution
This study was also interested in establishing how resource allocation influenced the growth of the academic institution. The resource allocations that were looked into included the financial resources, human resource and physical resources occupied by the institution.

3.4.1 Financial Resources issue
As shown by the summarized tabulation of the financial documents of the institution under study that were analyzed, it was evident that the institution had multiple sources of funding.

Table 2 University funding and expenditure

As shown by Table 2, over the period from 2006 – 2009, government capitation for the institution under study had remained between Ksh. 881,070,048 and Ksh. 881,071,048. This did not match the budget submission by the University of Ksh. 3,592,321,063 just like in the subsequent years. The institution continued to receive low capitation from government funding, thus making it look for alternative revenue generating activities in order to realize its strategic objectives. This included such sources as fees from students who contributed Ksh. 980,046,960 in 2006/2007. This increased by 18.4% in 2007/2008 and 47.3% in 2008/2009. Owing to the financial shortfall, the institution under study was compelled to look for alternative sources of funds, including aid and establishment of new campuses. This strategic move eventually led to the growth of the institution.

3.4.2 Influence of strategic allocation of human and physical resources

Upon examining the human-resource  pool of the institution under study, it was evident that the institution experienced shortfall. The documents analyzed showed an increase on the number of part time lecturers over years. This could be attributed to lack of adequate financial resources to meet the human-resource  needs. According to the views of the management staff who took part in the study, human-resource  issue is a strategic one and has an impact on the growth of the institution despite financial challenges. In reference to the physical resource allocation, students’ responses revealed that strategic investment of the institution under study in facilities had a positive impact on the growth of the institution.

In order to gauge what students generally felt about the institution’s resource allocation issue, they were asked to indicate the extent to which the strategic allocation of resources in the institution influenced its growth.  Figure 2 shows the distribution of their responses.

Figure 2 - influence of resource allocation on growth of institution

Slightly more than a half of the students, (56.3%) agreed that strategic allocation of resources by the institution positively impacted on its growth to some extent. However, a quarter of them, (25%) indicated that it did not influence as such. This could imply that there are other underlying factors that influenced the growth of the institution such as the mode of study and programmes.

3.5 Influence of the Stakeholders’ Involvement on the Growth of an Institution
In terms of stakeholders’ involvement, a vast majority of the students, (78.2%) either strongly agreed or agreed that university’s growth was, to some extent, influenced by the extent to which the stakeholders supported the vision and mission of the institution. The management also felt that the stakeholders’ involvement should not be underestimated since they play a very important role in the overall growth of an institution. They strongly believed that the institutional stakeholders are critical to the success of any academic institution, and much so, the institution under study.

4. Discussion
The issue of programmes offered was raised by a majority of students, (62.5%) as to greatly influence their enrollment in the institution. This was noted to have a positive growth of the academic institution. The study established that enrollment in the study institution under study were pegged on the availability of the programme offered. This finding coincides with an earlier study carried out by Mwiria (2007) who argued that Kenya’s public universities have academic programmes in which they appear to have a competitive advantage over others. These institutions create a niche in their training and research programmes to remain sustainable, owing to inadequate funding from government. Thus, strategically establishing certain university programmes and varied modes of study can lead to the growth of higher institutions of learning.

Concerning parallel programmes in the universities, Ngolovoi (2008) observed that the parallel system was conveniently scheduled to take place in the evenings and weekends unlike the regular system and thus allowed for more students to attend classes at their own advantageous time, which, therefore, allowed for increasing enrollment to the university. Along this line, the current study revealed that the majority of the students were positive about a flexible mode of study. According to them, such a mode can lead to an increase in growth of academic institutions. Thus, institutions have to strategically position themselves in terms of programmes, mode of study and even location.

From the study, slightly more than half the students, (56.25%) were in agreement that resource allocation did influence the overall growth and enrollment of the students in the academic institution. An earlier study by Ngolovoi (2008) showed that the most difficult challenge facing the growth of university systems lies in the successful resolution of the tension between the efficient and effective allocation and utilization of existing resources. A strong strategy is therefore required to anticipate future efficient resource allocation and utilization, to meet the increased demand for university education. Strategic allocation of resources, including financial, human and physical, to some extent, influenced the growth of the institution under study.

The vast majority of the students, (78.2%) either strongly agreed or agreed that the institution’s growth was influenced by the extent to which the stakeholders supported the vision and mission of the institution. These findings were consistent with Standa (2007) who in his study emphasized that there must be effective engagement with relevant stakeholders in order to gain their confidence. Lack of effective communication with them can be a hindrance to effective implementation of future plans and projects of any given institution. Along the same vein, Kotler and Fox, (1985) also underscores the importance of strategic analyses to understand and manage all stakeholders, including students, faculty, and donors.

5. Conclusions and Recommendations
5.1 Conclusions
From the findings, the study concluded the following:
For the institution to achieve a competitive advantage, it has to subscribe to the practice of strategic planning. The essence of strategic planning is to match its capabilities and competencies to competitive conditions of the external environment so that it keeps growing.

Strategic design and implementation of university programmes, has a potential of increasing students’ enrollment in the institution. Further, the mode of study allows for students to attend classes at their own advantageous time and therefore, allowing for an increase in students’ enrollment thus the growth of the academic institution.

The findings of this study suggest that resource allocation, stakeholder roles, programmes offered and mode of study have a direct impact on growth of institutions. A strong strategy is therefore required for efficient resource allocation and utilization to meet the increased demand for university education. Such a strategy needs to be guided by effective strategic planning.

The study also concludes that stakeholders have a great role to play in the growth of academic institutions, and the stake they hold affect the success of the institution.

5.2 Recommendations
Members of staff should be involved in the strategic planning process if it is to succeed. They should be socialized to know that the strategy of the institution is linked to the main campus and be keen on any changes in direction. The strategies should be implemented, and monitoring and evaluation should be done as and when stipulated.

The institution should classify all its resources in terms of what is available and what is not, so that it seeks to meet the shortfall as it grows. Available human resources should be given more incentives to render services to the institution, while more should be recruited to meet the shortfall as the institution grows.

The university should increase the number of programmes to provide diversity as well as allow for more enrollments in the institution. The programmes should, however, be of quality and be able to meet students’ learning needs.

The institutions of higher learning should strategically position themselves in terms of developing facilities, both virtual and physical in order to meet the ever increasing learning needs.

No institution can grow without stakeholders’ involvement and support. Thus, universities should strategically position themselves to enter both public and private partnerships. They should establish more linkages with the industries for their growth and relevance in the market place.

5.3 Recommendations for Further Research
Since this study examined the influence of institutional strategic parameters in the light of strategic planning on institutional growth, there is a need to examine external strategic issues, which affect the growth of public universities in developing countries.

References
Abagi, J.O. (1996). Revitalising financing of higher education in Kenya: Resource utilisation in public universities. Retrieved February 7, 2014 from http://www.international.ac.uk/media/3994/revitalising%20financing%20of%20higher%20education%20in%20kenya.pdf.

Commission for University Education [CUE] (2012). Status of Universities. Retrieved February 7, 2014 from http://www.cue.or.ke/services/accreditation/status-of-universities.

Creswell, J.W. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Mwiria, K. (2007). Kenyan Universities in the Coming Decade: The Policy Intention. In K. Mwiria, N. Ng’ethe, C. Ngome, D. O. Odero, V. Wawire and D. Wesonga, Public and Private Universities in Kenya. Nairobi: East African Educational publishers.

Ngolovoi, M. (2008). Financing Higher Education in Kenya: Student Perceptions and Experiences. Tertiary Education and Management Linking Research, Policy and Practice, 14 (2), 141-150.

____________ (2006). Means testing of student loans in Kenya. Presented at the Comparative and International Higher Education Policy: Issues and Analysis Workshop: University at Albany.

Standa, E. (2007). Institutional Autonomy and Academic Freedom: The Uganda Higher Education Review. Journal of Higher Council for Education, 4 (1), 17-20.

Weidman, J. (1995). Diversifying Finance of Higher Education systems in the Third World: The Case of Kenya and Mongolia.  Education Policy Analysis Archives, 3(5). Retrieved from http://olam.ed.asu.edu/epaa/v3n5.html


Citation
Mwadziwe, M.C. & Mugambi, F. (2014). Influence of strategic institutional parameters on the growth of academic institutions in the context of one selected public university in Kenya. Africa Research Journal of Education and Social Sciences, 1, http://www.arjess.org/ influence-of-strategic institutional-parameters-on-the-growth-of-academic-institutions-in-the-context-of-one selected-public-university-in-kenya


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