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Why varsities, colleges, students must cultivate stronger desires to succeed

Competition has gone global, thanks to the growing appetite among foreign players to penetrate the regional market

In 1970, Kenya had only one university. Therefore, there was no competition for students.

Today, observes Prof Stanley Waudo, the Vice-Chancellor of Mount Kenya University, Kenya has 32 public and 41 private universities, whose total admission capacity remains unfilled after admitting all candidates who attain the direct minimum university entry requirements.

“The competition for students and academic resources, particularly the human resource, requires that universities develop competitive advantages that are unique enough to attract students and staff,” says Prof Waudo.

This is not to mention that the competition is now global, given the growing appetite among foreign universities to innovate and attract more students from the region.

Developing a competitive advantage requires assembling and consolidating academic resources to support effective implementation of the university’s mission and delivery of high quality teaching, research and services, says Prof Waudo.

Similarly, students too must realise that they are in an environment of stiffening competition among themselves, he adds. Those who join universities and other higher institutions of learning must realise sooner than later that they need to fight it out for limited employment slots.

Hence, they must put in extra effort to unlock their full potential to truly attain their career dreams.

They must take up the various activities necessary for academic and lifelong success. They must acquire an expanding range of skills-set beyond what they learn in the lecture rooms.

These are skills they will need to survive and thrive in the job market, irrespective of the courses they take up. It is about acquiring the attitudes and values that will enhance their competitiveness, Prof Waudo advises.

First, the desire to succeed must be strong in a student. Each individual must work to gain a competitive edge over peers to stand a better chance of landing that dream job.

Explaining that careers get developed over time, Prof Waudo adds: “Careers are developed as a result of developing competencies and nurturing talent and abilities at schools, colleges and universities, and passing examinations.”

Prof Waudo asserts that effort is important “because it paves the way to success. Nothing can be achieved without effort, he stresses and adds that the passing of examinations is a result of putting effort in learning.”

Citing the advice of various notable personalities, among them former British prime minister Winston Churchill and India resistance movement leader Mahtma Gandhi, the MKU don emphasises the importance of effort in learning.

Churchill said, for example, that, “Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential.”

In making reference to this, Prof Waudo notes that, “a student who attends class 100 per cent performs better than one who does not attend classes most of the time.”

Overall, he advises students to learn from what is happening in the higher education sector, where many universities are competing for a shrinking pool of students who qualify for direct admission to degree courses. Competition is real in every sphere of life, education included – and students must brace for this.

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