Staff in big trouble as university proposes tough plan to cut costs

University of Nairobi Chancellor, Dr Vijoo Rattansi (centre), cuts a ribbon during the commissioning of the Kisumu Campus Complex on April 20. She was accompanied by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Peter Mbithi (right), and other officials. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Among the austerity measures include full compliance with the university post retirement policy and the executive order no OP/CAB.2/7A of February 2014.
  • Further, the Senate approved the reduction of all staff on contract by 50 per cent while those who attain their retirement age will not be replaced, a move that will see it save Sh48 million.

Workers at the University of Nairobi are in for hard times as the institution starts to implement a raft of austerity measures that will impact livelihoods in a major way.

Massive layoffs, restructuring of post-retirement contracts, and raising rents for staff housing are among the measures Kenya's oldest university plans to put in place to plug a budget deficit of Sh1.65 billion.

Vice-Chancellor Peter Mbithi tabled the proposed measures before the University Senate on Thursday, in which he announced the planned sacking of half the contract staff, a cut-down on post retirement contracts, and an increase in rent for staff houses to market rates.

Prof Mbithi said the move is aimed at boosting revenues amid dwindling financial support from the government and a massive decline in the number of students enrolling for the self-sponsored programme, which has been the main source of revenue.

SENSITISE STAFF

Prof Mbithi directed all principals of colleges to sensitise staff on the repercussions of the budget cuts.

Among the austerity measures include full compliance with the university post retirement policy and the executive order no OP/CAB.2/7A of February 2014.

Further, the Senate approved the reduction of all staff on contract by 50 per cent while those who attain their retirement age will not be replaced, a move that will see it save Sh48 million.

Staff residing in university premises will now pay rent at market rates as the institution targets to raise Sh19 million.

In spite of the university having a monthly wage bill of more than Sh870 million, the Ministry of Education only gave it Sh391 million, leaving it with a deficit of Sh500 million.

Prof Mbithi yesterday told the Sunday Nation that each department will be at liberty to identify redundant staff, insisting that the move is not meant to victimise anyone.

“When we had module II, the number of students was high and that is why we sought more staff. But now, the population has reduced by almost half. That means we cannot continue to keep such a huge number of staff,” said Prof Mbithi.

The university staff population is 4,945, comprising lecturers and non-teaching staff.

He said that academic staff who are past the age of 70 years will only be retained if involved in research, supervision of post-graduate students and if capable of attracting research grants.

The university also plans to strengthen existing post-graduate programmes to increase enrolment, increase new intakes in Mombasa and Kisumu by September this year, and introduce law programmes in Kisumu and Mombasa, among others.

Through this plan, it hopes to raise Sh240 million. Prof Mbithi is expected to meet Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed with a request for an additional Sh1 billion.

It is also targeting to get Sh50 million from administrative levies on each grant project while, through non-replacement of retiring staff, it targets to save Sh38 million.

On medical scheme, it plans to have staff use its health facilities, which will save Sh46 million among other measures.

Admission to public universities of nearly all students who scored C+ and above over the past two years has reduced the pool of learners available for private programmes.

The Treasury slashed allocation to the institution by Sh1.7 billion in the current financial year to Sh4.7 billion.

Prof Mbithi, however, did not disclose the number of staff whose contracts would not be renewed — a move that is likely to create panic at the institution that has the highest number of employees.

Early this year, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich asked 31 public universities to consider sacking some of their workers to cope with reduced funding.

And last year, the government proposed that universities outsource services such as security, cleaning among others to cut costs while middle level staff be put on contracts.

Kenyatta University owes the government Sh10.85 billion as outstanding loans. According to the Auditor-General’s Report tabled in Parliament last month, Eldoret-based Moi University owes the government Sh231 million.

The report, “The financial statements of outstanding loans for the financial year ended June 30 2017,” which was tabled in Parliament by Majority Leader Aden Duale, revealed that Moi University took a Sh250 million loan and has so far been able to repay 18.75 million.

 

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