First year students in the public universities will only be allowed to change their degree courses on medical, marginalisation and affirmative action grounds.
The directive is a setback to about 20,000 students who failed to get their first degree course choices.
It is also a blow to the more than 1,000 students selected to study engineering in 10 universities and those taking medical courses that have not been approved by professional organisations.
Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Services Chief Executive Officer John Muraguri said students with disabilities would be allowed to seek transfers to places conducive for their learning.
However, in the cases of marginalisation and affirmative action, the transfers will only be allowed if space is available in the universities students want to move to.
Mr Muraguri said the students had until the end of next month to conclude their transfers that must be sanctioned by his organisation, which is charged with placing students in the public universities and colleges.
However, he explained, students who wished to be transferred to other programmes and universities must meet the cut-off points.
“Students must have their forms endorsed both at the institutions where they have been placed and the ones they would like to transfer to. The forms must be submitted to the placement service for final approval and validation,” said Mr Muraguri.
A total of 67,790 students will be joining the public universities next month, compared to 57,250 last year.
There has been a proposal to change university admission criteria from one that focuses on clusters to a new one that will look at individual subjects.
However, the new system has not been adopted as the vice-chancellors have yet to meet to endorse it.
Education Cabinet Secretary Prof Jacob Kaimenyi yesterday said it was unfortunate some students had been selected to study degree programmes that had not yet been recognised by professional organisations.
“We will work with the organisations to find a solution. However, university councils should do their work. I cannot do everything,” said Prof Kaimenyi.
At the same time, the fate of 2,285 students who were selected to join the Kenya Medical Training College still hangs in the balance after the management snubbed a meeting that was called by Prof Kaimenyi on Wednesday.
The CS told the Nation the ministry would pursue other avenues to resolve the issue.
“I cannot disclose to you what we would do as the government has its own mechanism of operation,” the CS added.