Academic staff perceptions of and the actual working conditions in the University of Nairobi and their likely influence on brain drain.
The objective of this study was to look at the extent to which the academic staff perceptions of and the actual working conditions in the University of Nairobi are likely to influence brain drain from the university. The study explored the conditions in which the academic staff work in the University of Nairobi and their possible cause of brain drain The study further reviewed the state of the other public Universities in Kenyan as well as in Africa. The population of this study comprised of all academic staff in the University of Nairobi All the six colleges in the university were covered. The faculties under each of the colleges were sampled through proportionate random sampling leading to the selection of 7 faculties and 1 institute. Using the same sampling technique departments were sampled from each of the faculties. The sample comprised 12 departments and one institute. Proportionate random sampling was again used to determine the number of staff to be sampled from each department as well as the institute. This process yielded a sample of 109 academic staff members. The study used purposive sampling to identify heads of department to be interviewed as key informants of the study. 100 academic staff members were finally interviewed representing a response rate of 92%. The study found out that the University of Nairobi academic staff are generally dissatisfied with all aspects of their working conditions. The majority generally perceived the working conditions to be very poor. Almost all the respondents (99%) are dissatisfied with the salaries and benefits offered by the UON. The majority also indicated that salary and benefits are a significant factor that can influence them to seek better opportunities elsewhere. The analysis equally showed that of all the aspects of compensation, salary is the most significant. The study found out that research opportunities are generally limited. The number of research projects undertaken reflects some of the difficulties facing research in public universities in Kenya and in Africa. This can be deduced from the fact that only 3 respondents have carried out more than 6 research projects in 5 years, translating to 1 research project per a year. The key constraints to research identified include lack of funding for research, heavy workload and lack of access to information available on research. Research was identified as the second aspect after salaries and benefits that greatly influence the decision of university academic staff members to move and work outside the country. The majority of the University of Nairobi academic staff members have been able to publish in the last five years. However, constraints such as heavy workload (43%) and inability to carry out research (57%) are the major factors hindering some of the academic staff from publishing. Staff development opportunities were also found to be limited. The academic staff members are hardly sponsored for further training by the university. Most of the academic staff, however, would wish to undertake further training. The preferred institutions for further training for most staff are those in the developed world. The limited opportunity for sponsorship for further training was found to be a major factor pushing the academic staff out of the university. The teaching facilities and support services within the UoN were found to be inadequate and insufficient. The library does not stock books and journals within six months of their publication. Workshops and laboratories do not have enough equipment and the existing ones are not up-to-date. There is a significant deficit of secretarial support in the University of Nairobi. Academic staff either does secretarial work on their own, hire someone to do it for them or engage the services of their departmental secretary However, most academic staff rated the likelihood of the teaching facilities pushing them out of the university employment as average. The majority of the academic staff members do not reside in university houses. Several reasons were advanced for this situation: some of the academic staff have their own houses, some do not prefer staying in university houses because they are poorly maintained and others said that the houses are fully occupied and therefore not available to them However, housing is of less significance as a push factor but assumes greater significance as motivating factor. The promotion of academic staff is not always done on the basis of established criteria. There are some instances of favouritism in effecting promotion of academic staff The majority of staff interviewed said that in most cases some academic staff members who they perceive not to have met the promotion criteria are promoted The likelihood of being promoted is an important factor pushing University of Nairobi academic staff to look for employment elsewhere. The majority of the academic staff members perceive their workload to be just about right. This is reflected by the fact that majority view their class sizes as average and teach for between 3 and 10 hours per week. Overall, the study established that workload is not a significant push factor and not a major problem to the majority of the academic staff This was a surprise finding given the overall perception that the academic staff members are overworked. The study found out that the majority of the respondents perceived that the overall administration of the UoN is inefficient and rigid. However, the majority of the academic staff indicated that the type of management style is an insignificant push factor in influencing their decision to move out of the university. In conclusion, most academic staff members perceive the working conditions in the University of Nairobi as poor. This perception greatly influences the decision of the staff members to move to and to work outside the country. There is therefore need for the conditions of work for academic staff to be improved if this perception is to be changed to the positive.