Foreign nationals seeking to study in Kenyan universities will now be required to obtain a certificate of good conduct from the local police before they are admitted to various institutions across the country.
Director of Immigration and Registration of Persons Gordon Kihalangwa said in an interview that the directive which takes effect very soon will enhance the crackdown of criminal networks dominated by foreigners especially those coming from war-torn countries.
“We are issuing this directive not to block foreigners from studying in our country but to ensure everyone entering the country is free from criminal record.
“Consequently, the certificate from police will be a confirmation that nationals from other countries have never been involved in activities such as fraud and terrorism,” Kihalangwa said.
The move he said is aimed at fighting war against terrorism, fraud and drug abuse and influence among students population in the country.
University students have become soft targets of Al-Shabaab militants who recruit them to wage against their governments.
This is evidenced in the killings of the 147 university students which apparently was planned and executed by former university students’ recruits.
Barely three weeks ago, two university staff from Southern Coast were attacked and killed by gunmen whom police suspected to be from Al-Shabaab militia group. The gun open a fire at the car they were travelling in.
According to police reports, many varsity students in Kenya are radicalized and lured into joining terror groups with a promise to become wealthy.
Another police report released in April this year indicated that a significant number of youths who have been pursuing degrees in Kenyan universities have been lured into acts of terrorism.
The report further noted that institutions of higher learning had become centers of radicalization and recruitment by recruiters from Somalia and Syria.
Consequently, the security agencies released the names of four students from a local university who had already joined the terror groups.
Kihalangwa said his officers had identified some satellite towns and residential areas within the capital city where young foreigners with unknown motives reside.
The immigration director said that the new regulations will be shared by the Education Cabinet Secretary who will then direct universities to implement it.
He added that foreign students will be required to write a letter addressed to the immigration director indicating the course they intend to pursue and its duration.
In addition, the students will submit copies of their academic testimonials, proof of funds, and a commitment letter from their sponsor.
Commission for University Chairman Professor Chacha Nyaigotti-Chacha welcomed the move saying it will form part of the new regulations that are being put in place to enhance security in universities.
“Our local universities are highly regarded by foreign nationals because of our diverse and quality university education system.
“We welcome all nationals but again regulations should be put in place to ensure our students are safe,” Chacha said.
Already, most universities have started implemented the biometric registration of students to ensure universities keep bio data of all its students.
This is to help in tracking activities of all students with an aim of curbing security threats.
Kombo Owuonda, an assistant academic registrar in a local university said he was not aware of the directive but welcome the day.
“I am not aware of this, perhaps the university will communicate in due course. It’s a good idea anyway because in this error of students attack in universities, you cannot trust anyone,” Owuonda said.
Data from Commission for University Education indicates that local universities admit at least 5,000 foreign learners annually, mainly for study in private institutions, and mostly from the Eastern Africa region.