Education ministry sheds light on new funding model for universities

University funding

 Funding to students shall combine scholarships, loans and household contributions on a graduated scale, scientifically determined by a Means Testing Instrument.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • The government shall fully fund vulnerable groups through scholarships and loans.
  •  Universities will therefore be required to declare and publicise the actual costs of their programmes. 

The Ministry of Education has elaborated on the new funding model for Universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (Tvet) centres aimed at rescuing the struggling institutions of higher learning from heavy debts.

 Funding to students shall combine scholarships, loans and household contributions on a graduated scale, scientifically determined by a Means Testing Instrument.

The government shall fully fund vulnerable groups through scholarships and loans. Students from less needy families will get 53 per cent of scholarships and up to 40 per cent loans. Their households will only contribute seven per cent, while less needy students will benefit from 38 per cent scholarships and 55 per cent loans. Their households will also contribute seven per cent.

“Funding will no longer be blocked but will be student-centred and allocated to students according to their level of need. There will be four levels of consideration,” said Permanent Secretary, State Department of Higher Education and Research, Ministry of Education, Dr Beatrice Inyangala.

 Universities will therefore be required to declare and publicise the actual costs of their programmes.  The PS said no public university shall levy additional charges or raise its fees without the approval of the university funding board.

 Consequently, students shall be placed at various levels using a Means Testing Instrument (MTI), which has been used by Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) for some time.

 “Let this crucial information trickle down to your students and parents, let those that come from households at the bottom of the socio-economic structure understand that they will enjoy equal education opportunities. Let the students be very keen while applying for these courses, considering the cost implication of these programmes, bearing in mind that the cost will vary from programme to programme,” added the PS.

The PS said there are various benefits of the model to universities. “...universities will be assured of a regular and reliable income since it is individual-centred and not blocked. It is only meant for those students who will be interested in applying. It is possible to apply for a loan and leave out the scholarship and vice versa,” elaborated the PS last week during the Kenya Secondary School Head Teachers Association conference in Mombasa.

Dr Inyangala said the timely new funding model for universities and TVET institutions has come to rescue the universities that are almost collapsing under the weight of heavy debt.

“The model ensures that opportunities are availed to all students regardless of their economic backgrounds. It will ensure adequacy and predictability of resources,” said the PS.

In February, 35 vice chancellors from public universities said their institutions are crippled due to financial challenges.

The institutions have accrued debts amounting to Sh60.6 billion in staff pensions and statutory deductions such as Pay As You Earn and National Hospital Insurance Fund. The figure has been growing due to interest.

However, in their proposed interventions on key strategic issues bedevilling the institutions of higher learning, the vice-chancellors urged the National Treasury and Planning to start clearing the pending Pension Bill amounting to Sh19.6 billion in targeted instalments.

“The National Government should take decisive and necessary decision to write off the pending PAYE bill amounting to Sh18 billion owed to the Kenya Revenue Authority by public universities. The state should remit money to pay the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) in full including arrears amounting to Sh2.9 billion,” said the Universities Fund chief executive officer Mr Geoffrey Monari.

The state is also seeking to establish a one-year paid national internship programme for all students graduating from teacher, technical and medical colleges and universities.

This will be done through collaboration with industry players and an increase of funding for research and development from the current 0.8 percent to 2 percent of GDP progressively.

Dr Inyangala said the Kenya Kwanza administration has made commitments to promote equitable education.

The state also seeks to establish a special Service Tariff for all learning institutions for basic utilities such as water, electricity and internet connection.

“We are also reviewing the current exam-based system of academic progression by implementing alternative entry criteria, setting up of a National Open University to increase access and reduce the cost of university education while making 100 percent transition to higher education a reality,” said Dr Inyangala.

The PS said the objective of the Open University of Kenya is to make higher education inexpensive, affordable, accessible, inclusive and attainable to all by enabling some flexible entry criteria.

She challenged educators in secondary schools to move beyond content delivery and truly enhance Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education so that students develop a broad mix of skills.

Critical thinking

“Embrace innovative teaching and learning approaches to spark critical thinking and creativity. Enhance students’ engagement in symposiums and Kenya Science and Engineering Fair (KSEF). Such fora, if well utilized will also allow critique, strengthen communication and build collaboration,” advised the PS.

She called for the effective use of ICT as teaching and learning resources which she said has been found to significantly increase students’ achievement, and promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills needed in life.

The PS said research has proven that the use of ICT in education does not only enhance learning but is also crucial in preparation of the youth for the challenges of globalization in the 21st century.

“This is therefore a clarion call to the schools that have not yet embraced ICT. Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) is a key component of social integration, sustainable development and poverty eradication. It is also an enabler of attainment of the vision,” added the PS.

She called for advocacy and awareness for STI, which includes Annual Innovation Week, exhibitions and fairs which she said have been used as avenues for promoting the same.

The PS urged teachers to also adopt and strengthen mentorship programmes in schools so that learners cultivate a research culture long before joining universities.

Dr Inyangala said the expansion of basic education and the ongoing implementation of the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) provides a great opportunity for the mainstreaming of Science and Technology and integration of learning based on discovery and competence development.