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How to Apply for a License to operate a University in Kenya

The basic requirements for the establishment of a new university are stipulated in the Universities (Establishment of Universities) (Standardization, Accreditation

steps and Procedure

All interested individuals applying for a license to operate a university shall follow the following steps and guidelinesStep 1

All local and foreigners who are interested in offering private Universities/institutions in Kenya should apply to the Commission for University Education (UCE) for a license to operate a University in Kenya. Reference should be made to the Universities Regulations, Act, No. 42 of 2012.

All Foreigner and Kenyan Residents who are interested in establishing a Private University in Kenya must apply for a license by sending their Application letter on the Following Address:-Commission SecretaryP.O. Box 54999-00200Emailinfo@cue.or.keStep 2

A university shall have Vision & Mission statements and Philosophy which clearly and succinctly indicate its strategic direction. Guidelines.
1) The Vision statement shall clearly outline what the university desires to be;
2) The Mission statement shall incorporate elements of the universities business purpose and values, succinctly describing why it exists and what it does to achieve its vision;
3) Statements of Vision and Mission shall be prominently displayed and appear in key documents of the university; and
4) The Philosophy of the University shall be clearly stated.
5) Proposal as to particulars and resources.

An application under regulation 5 (2) shall be accompanied with a proposal setting out:-
a) Experience of the sponsor in university education;
b) the academic resources (including land, physical facilities, finances, staff, library services and equipment) appropriate to and adequate for the proposed academic programme(s) to be conducted at that university which have been or can be procured and the manner in which these shall be maintained on a long term basis; and
c) the proposed name, location and academic character of that university;
d) the functions, aims, objectives and strategies consistent with the needs of university education in Kenya for which the university is to be established;
e) the form of governance through which the academic and administrative affairs of the university are to be conducted;
f) an outline of the academic programme(s) intended to be offered at that university;
g) a timetable indicating the steps expected to be taken in the next four years towards the realization of the aims and objects for which the university is to be established.Step 3 Charter status

Each university shall apply to have a Charter as a legal instrument of accreditation that authorizes the institution to discharge its mandate before applying for an operating license in Kenya.

A charter shall be the full accreditation status of any university in Kenya.

1) The charter status may be attained after at least three years of operating under any other university status recognized by the Commission;

2) A chartered university shall have a fully established seat of the university that meets the standards of the Commission;

3) A chartered university shall have at least 400 students enrolled in the degree programmes;

4) The number of degree students in a chartered university shall not be less than 70% of the total student enrollment;

5) The University Charter shall stipulate the powers and functions of the institution and governance and management structures.Step 4 Governance and Management

A university shall clearly articulate its governance and management structures in line with the Act.

A university shall ensure that there is clear separation of powers between the governing organs before operating for an operating license.

1)A university shall have clear organizational and administrative charts showing the inter-relationships of the various organs and offices;

2) A university shall have documented policies that include but not limited to human resources policy, research policy, ICT policy, disability policy, gender mainstreaming policy, curriculum development policy, academic integrity policy and Internal Quality Assurance Policy;

3) A university shall develop statutes, rules and regulations for the governance and management of the university in line with section 23, 34 and 35 of the Act. These shall include:a) Student conduct and discipline;b) Staff code of conduct;c) Terms and Conditions of service of staff; andd) Student handbook containing, inter alia, admission requirements and fees guideline.

4) The Board of Trustees (BOT) shall:a) Be constituted in accordance with the Trustees Act Cap. 167 of 2009;b) Have members representing the interests of the sponsor but, members of the sponsoring family in case of a sponsor who is an individual, or members of the sponsoring entity in case of the institutional sponsor, may not constitute more than one third of the BOT;c) Have a third of its members being Kenyans in the case of a foreign sponsor;

5) Every university shall ensure that there is clear separation of powers between the governing organs, and in particular, no one person shall head two organs whose relationship is oversight in nature.Step 5 Human Resources;

Before applying for a University operating license, a university shall have adequate and competent human resources to carry out its mandate in accordance to its human resource policy.

1) The Vice Chancellor or equivalent of the university shall be a person appropriately qualified with extensive teaching, administrative and research experience;

2) The teaching staff of a university shall meet the qualifications outlined in the Standards and Guidelines for academic programmes as provided for in Schedule 3; and

3) The administrative staff of a university shall have requisite qualification in their areas of operation; and

4) Every university should clearly articulate its appointment criteriaStep 6 Academic Programmes

A university shall offer programmes that are commensurate with its institutional accreditation status and that meet the standards of academic programmes.

1) A proposed university shall submit no more than three academic programmes to the Commission for consideration for grant of Letter of Interim Authority;

2) A proposed university shall not launch any programme until it becomes a legal entity through grant of Letter of Interim Authority;

3) A university with Letter of Interim Authority shall offer a minimum of two academic programmes;

4) A University with a Charter shall offer at least four academic programmes;

5) A Technical University shall offer programmes that are deemed by the Commission to be technical in nature; and

6) A Specialized University shall offer programmes deemed to be of national strategic importance.Step 7 Financial Resources

A university shall have adequate financial resources to meet its obligations.The university must show proof of its source of finances to run the university before a license of operating a university is granted.

1) In determining the adequacy of a universitys financial resources, reference will be made to the differentiated unit cost as provided for in the Act;

2) A university shall manage its financial resources as stipulated in Part 6 of the Act.Step 8 Planning

A University shall show evidence of long and medium term plans to ensure sustainability and continuous improvement before a license is issued.

1)A University shall have at least a 10-year Master Plan that outlines its physical, academic, financial and human development;

2)A University shall have a physical Master plan that indicates the location of existing and proposed physical infrastructure; and

3)A University shall have at least a 5 year strategic plan that inter alia outlines its overall development including, but not limited to academic programme


All citizen of Kenya with the required qualification and who satisfy the criteria set out in the Schedule of the university Act No.42 of 2012 can Apply to the government of Kenya to be licensed to open up private or public a university respectively.


You can register a private university with the commission for University Education in Kenya (CUE) to have the legal authority to offer higher education programmes before being grated a license. Private University offer the same qualifications levels as that offered by public universities or universities . The purpose of registration is to ensure that:

  • Private Universities offer quality education
  • The public is protected against unscrupulous and exploitative operators.
  • The consumer obtains qualifications that are aligned with the Commission for University Education Framework ( and registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF)

Required Information

  • Full name
  • Identity number
  • Contact address and Phone number
  • Business Plan information
  • Occupation
  • Citizenship
  • Audited annual financial statements or audited financial forecasts
  • the name of the proposed University,
  • the location,
  • the mission and vision,
  • the nature of the proposed university and
  • its proposed focal niche in the current Nigerian University System.

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Need for the Document

The Commission for University Education (CUE) was established under the Universities Act, No. 42 of 2012, as the successor to the Commission for Higher Education. It is the Government agency mandated to regulate university education in Kenya.

The Commission has made great strides in ensuring the maintenance of standards, quality and relevance in all aspects of university education, training and research. The Commission continues to mainstream quality assurance practices in university education by encouraging continuous improvement in the quality of universities and programmes.

The Universities Regulations, 2014 were gazetted on 12th June 2014 and are currently in force. All stakeholders of university education are being advised to familiarise themselves and strictly adhere to the provisions of the Universities Regulations, 2014.

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