What you need to know:
- Without the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb), many of these students would be locked out.
- However, the suggestion that students from rich families should pay more in public universities is discriminatory and grossly unfair.
- The universities are in a financial mess because of a decline in government funding as the cost of administering education increases.
Most of the public universities are technically insolvent, yet they are expected to provide a vital service, which is the training of the high-level manpower needed for the country’s development.
According to the Universities Fund (UF), which guides allocations to public institutions, the funding gap for students has hit Sh27 billion, a more than 100 per cent jump from Sh13 billion two years ago.
The deficit is expected to jump to Sh96.27 billion in the year ending next June.
Capitation per student has declined by Sh35,616, necessitating an increase in tuition and accommodation fees.
The average allocation per student fell to Sh135,244 from Sh170,861 in the period to June last year.
To ease the cash crunch, the University of Nairobi, for instance, doubled fees for postgraduate courses and parallel programmes and increased accommodation charges by up to seven times per semester.
Sadly, this has led to a reduction in student enrolment.
Outgoing Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha says university fees should, in fact, be raised to Sh100,000.
He insists that Kenyans can afford this, but that is far from the reality, as many cash-strapped parents cannot even pay the Sh10,000 annual tuition for secondary schools.
University education has over the years proved to be a great equaliser, as it enables students from poor families to get jobs and improve their lives.
Without the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb), many of these students would be locked out.
However, the suggestion that students from rich families should pay more in public universities is discriminatory and grossly unfair.
Since last year, the vice-chancellors have been pushing the government to increase fees nearly three times to ease the cash flow crisis.
The universities are in a financial mess because of a decline in government funding as the cost of administering education increases.
There is also an element of mismanagement in some institutions.
Public universities are struggling to honour statutory obligations, including taxes, retirement contributions, insurance premiums and paying contractors and suppliers.
Their debts hit Sh60 billion in the year ended June.
The institutions must seek more innovative measures to solve the biting cash crunch and cut reliance on the National Treasury.