In 2016, it came as a shock that only 141 candidates had scored A in the Form Four national examination.
The decline in performance was a result of reforms introduced by then Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.
The strict administration and marking of the exams led to fewer students qualifying for university admission in the subsequent years.
In the long run, it had far-reaching consequences on universities, leading to the death of self-sponsored programmes in universities.
Prior to 2016, the self-sponsored programmes were a cash cow for universities.
Former Education CS the late George Magoha was on record as saying that money from self-sponsored programmes had enabled him to build the iconic University of Nairobi tower when he was vice chancellor.
The programmes also saw several universities open multiple satellite campuses and constituent colleges. The institutions also employed more staff, academic and non-teaching, to handle the bulging numbers.
An analysis by The Standard indicates that the population of public and private universities had dropped by 28,216 students by 2022.
In 2016, the task force report indicates that the total population in universities was 537,689, since then the population has taken a downward spiral.
In 2017-2018, the population dropped to 522,059, in 2018-2019 (519,462) and in 2019-2020 it dropped further to 509,473.
Private universities were in a worse position as they relied on surplus candidates who did not qualify for government sponsorship.
To ensure fairness, the government came up with a plan to send government-sponsored students to private institutions, which host 15 per cent of government-sponsored students.