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University life, life of university students in Kenya

by Louis


Kenya has about 31 public universities and 33 private universities. Kenyan parents dream that their children qualify and join the various universities in Kenya. In Kenya, for an individual to directly join any university, he/she must score at least a grade of C+ in the final exam of secondary education. The final exam is the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education. Individuals together with their parents or guardians get excited when they are placed to join various universities in Kenya as a result of their excellent performance. Admission letters of universities, students download them online, and the admission letters show that an individual has been selected to join a particular university. Before the chosen individuals join the respective universities, typically there are stories they hear concerning university life. Some get scared of those stories, while others become extra excited. In this article, I share the university life of students in Kenya.


In all universities in Kenya, People commonly refer to the first-year students as Freshers. Most first-year students are usually very innocent, and at times they look scared. First-year students are allocated rooms in University hostels where they stay until the end of their first year in the universities. It is in the first year where you get to interact with new people in a new environment. University students come from very different backgrounds, so sometimes it is difficult to socialize.

When it comes to class attendance, first-year students do not miss classes and are often punctual in attending the lectures. First-year students receive ample support from their parents in terms of pocket money and shopping. The pocket money given to first-year students by parents is usually in excess that the students eat all their daily meals in high standard hotels around the university. Others buy expensive phones with the excess money given to them. It is hard to find a first-year student taking meals in the university cafeterias where the prices of meals are meager.

Some first-year students find it hard to adapt to the new university life where nobody tells you what to do, or nobody supervises you when doing something. They may have come from families or institutions where they were managed and closely monitored. First-year students join universities full of visions hence are usually focused on achieving those goals and visions.


In Kenyan universities, in most occasions, continuing students refer to second years, third years, fourth years, fifth years and sixth, seventh years for students pursuing a degree in medicine. All continuing students are not supposed to stay in university hostels, but some find ways into those hostels preserved for first-year students. Continuing students have adapted to the university life, and they know all the corners of the university. Continuing students live in rental houses outside university premises or pay for private hostels.

At this stage of university life, it is costly for most parents to support and cater to the needs of their children. They have to pay university fees, pay rent or hostel fee and do shopping for their children. In shopping, parents are supposed to buy household items for their children like Gas cookers, beddings and much other stuff necessary. The financial demands of continuing students are high and sometimes use tricks to extract extra money from parents or guardians. In every university in Kenya, students must attend at least 80% of classes in a semester, but to continuing students, it is the vice versa. Some attend classes only if they wish. Most do not do their assignments or research on their own; they copy from friends and submit to the lecturer.

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University life of continuing students is somehow tricky compared to that of first-year students. Some continuing students receive less amount of money from parents and guardians that cannot cater to their university life needs. They consume the dough in two days, and when they call home to ask for more money, the parents tell them to wait. They end up waiting for weeks without receiving any cash. Some survive in those weeks by taking water in place of meals while others seek refuge in friends’ houses where they get meals.

Female students who do not get financial support from parents may end up taking part-time jobs. Jobs like washing dirty clothes for fellow students who are lazy to get paid. Others sell groceries when they do not have classes while some look for sponsors who splash out money to them for love.

When it comes to university politics, continuing students are the ones allowed to vie for student leadership posts. First-year students are only allowed to vote when the time comes. The university demonstrations and strikes are spearheaded by the continuing students who force the first-year students to join the protests, so most first-year students participate in strike unwillingly.

The students who were very innocent in their first year as continuing students, some initiate to abusing drugs and alcoholism, bullying others, stealing and disrespecting lecturers. The dressing conduct changes abruptly. Boys now wear rugged trousers with undecent hairstyles while. Female students wear very short skirts, and transparent clothes that reveal the contents of their bodies, and this makes the male lecturers uncomfortable when lecturing.


As life goes on in the university, the financial demands of students also increase, and they try hard to get money, and others employ the use of tricks in extracting money from parents. Some of the methods they use are as follows:

Cash for class tours: This is the first trick university students use to get extra cash from their parents. They believe that no parent can resist falling for this particular trick. They claim to their respective parents and guardians that it is an educational tour. All students in the class must go and that the university has asked parents to send money for the expenses during the informative trip. In the real sense, there is usually no tour. The students use the name of the university because they are almost sure that there is no way their parents will inquire about the trip from the university.

Money to repair student portal: The students claim that their student portals are offline and that they need to fix them. Students direct this trick mostly to the primitive parents who never went to the university. With no doubt, they will fall for this trick because they have no idea what is a student portal. The university website can experience problems but not often, and the university’s IT department fix the issues, not the students.

Money for exam cards:  An exam card is an authorization for a student to sit for university exams. The exam card shows the details of the student, including the name, course, admission number, and lists all the units the student is undertaking. Students download exam cards from their students’ portal upon successful payment of full fees for a particular semester (the case of Maseno University).

Each student is entitled to have one exam card, but a very greedy student will claim to the parent that the university has requested them to buy. Let’s say eight exam cards representing each unit of the course from the university’s bookshop. It is a big lie. Downloading Exam cards from the university website is free. You do not have to pay any cash to download or get them so parents should not fall for this trick.


University students in Kenya have what we can term as Freedom, general freedom. Their parents are not around to monitor or supervise them. Students in the university are all considered grown-ups, and as a result of too much freedom, university students do misbehave in the following ways:

  • Through demonstrations and Strikes: The Kenyan constitution allows individuals to carry out peaceful protests, but to university students, it is usually the opposite. They may be demonstrating for a genuine reason, but how they behave during those demonstrations is always disturbing. Those universities located near main roads, students block those roads preventing movement of motorists. The motorists who try to force their ways through the barricades incur damages as students throw stones and dangerous objects unto them, resulting in broken vehicle glasses. All businesses around the university shut down during the demonstrations, and sometimes students break into shops and kiosks to loot. The students also uproot market stalls and use them to block the roads. When the police are called upon to control the situation, it usually gets messy. The police tear gas the students, and the students respond by throwing stones at them. It often turns into guerilla warfare, where students attack the police by throwing stones at them then run back into hiding. A disappointing scene to watch.
  • Drug Abuse and Alcoholism: Abuse of drugs is high in Kenyan universities. Some of the drug students mostly abuse Tobacco, Bhang, Khat or Miraa, and Alcohol. In the case of Bhang, it is illegal in Kenya, but in universities, students smoke as if it is legal. They smoke bhang openly and carelessly. On the other side of Alcohol, university students consume alcohol excessively and forget to attend lectures. Some students even attend classes when they are very drunk and force the lecturers to chase them out of the lecture halls.
  • Defaulting in payment of hostel and rental money: This misbehavior among university students mainly affects apartment owners and hostel owners. It is a must to pay rent for a house you have rented but to some university do not live by it. They pay a small amount of money at the beginning then later come up with excuses and promise to give the rest immediately they get money. The parents usually send the money for rent in full, but the students choose not to pay. When a semester comes to an end, the students disappear with all their belongings. They will look for rental houses elsewhere the following semester.
  • Indecent dressing: Students are advised in neatly dressing when attending classes, but they choose the opposite. They use the phrase, “My Dress My Choice.” The female students wear very short skirts, unfinished/rugged trousers, and dresses that reveal their body, making lecturers uncomfortable when teaching. The community members around the various universities also do complain that university students dress indecently.

Male university students improvise some methods that they find fruitful in attracting their female counterparts. They include:

Dressing Expensively: Male students who wear designer suits and expensive brands of clothes such as Gucci easily attract female students.

Modification of Houses: Talking about the look of houses. I mean a house that has a carpet covering the floor, there is a Gas cooker in the house, and there is a subwoofer speaker in the house. Having a laptop and a television in the house will be an added advantage. Those are some of the basic things in a male student’s home that will attract a female student.

Muscle building: This is where some male students hit the gym for some months to develop muscular bodies. The female students crazily fall for the male students with muscular bodies more so those with abdominal muscles. The abdominal muscle is also known as the Six Pack abdomen as a result of having six layers of muscles.

Becoming a Politician in the university: When you become a politician in the university, you will be famous. Every female student will want to associate with you.


Insecurity: The location of Some universities like Maseno University is in hostile environments. The neighboring community at Maseno University is much hostile that there have been cases of student murders by the nearby locals. It forces students to go back to their houses very early before nightfall, so they do not face the dangerous people taking students’ lives.

Delay in Graduation of some students: Some students delay to graduate as a result of the university’s incompetence. A university may deny a student the opportunity to graduate because he/she has missing marks for some of the previous exams done. Having missing marks is usually not the fault of the student but the fault of the lecturers and those in charge of recording students marks.

Lack of financial support: This may be in terms of pocket money and school fees. Without school fees, any university will not allow any student to sit for the exams. Some students find it useless to be in school, yet they will not sit for exams. Some stop attending classes. The lack of school fees and pocket money lead to many students turning to do weird jobs to get cash for their university education.

Delayed HELB Money: The HELB money is government money allocated to government-sponsored students in the universities as a loan. HELB money is for students upkeep in the university, but it sometimes takes longer to be disbursed to the accounts of the students. The many students who depend on it may have to suffer while waiting for it to arrive.

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