Egerton University to discontinue eight degree courses

Egerton VC

Egerton University Vice-Chancellor Prof Isaac Kibwage.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

Cash-strapped Egerton University is set to discontinue eight degree programs,which the university management says have not been attracting students at the institution.

This was revealed by university Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Isaac Kibwage, during a meeting with staff on Tuesday.

Prof Kibwage said the move will play a key role in enhancing financial stability of the institution while countering risks, such as frequent strikes.

“As part of reorganising the institution we are scrapping some eight degree courses that have failed to attract enough students to sustain them despite having hired lecturers for them,” said Prof Kibwage.

“The university has identified the eight degree programs which we intend to scrap. Lecturers and staff in those departments will unfortunately have to exit,” he added.

According to the VC, the said the programs have not been attracting quorum of learners in the last five years.

The staff at the departments including lecturers, will be among those targeted in the planned redundancy by the university.

The move is aimed at managing the bloated wage at the institution which has been struggling financially.

The programmes which the institution says have not attracted a quorum of 15 students in the last five years include; Bachelor of Industrial Technology, Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering, Bachelor Of Science (soil, environment and land use management) , Bachelor Of Science (Dairy Technology and Management).

Others are Bachelor Of Science (Wildlife management and enterprise), Bachelor Of Science ( Intergrated forest resource management), Bachelor Of Science (dairy land resources management) and Bachelor Of Science ( in applied aquatic science).

During the address Prof Kibwage also announced that the university will declare more staff redundant to remain afloat.

According to the VC, the academic staff takes a lion’s share of the wage bill at Sh135million monthly followed by the non-teaching KUSU and KUDHEIHA who take Sh93 million and  Sh16.5 million respectively

The management is said to consume Sh3.5 million monthly in salaries. 

The institution is in the midst of its worst financial crisis, struggling to pay its massive wage bill of more than Sh200 million while also clearing a debt of Sh9 billion.

In a recent session with journalists, Prof Kibwage said the institution had issued a notice to declare some of the positions redundant to cut the wage bill.

"The government gives us Sh185 million per month, we raise through fees an average of Sh26million in a month. This is against a payroll of Sh240 million, that is why we are unable to fully pay salaries to our staff. They need to understand the dilemma and avoid downing tools, "further revealed Prof Kibwage.

By last year Egerton University's debt burden ballooned and hit the Sh9 billion mark as it continued to struggle to run its operations due to insufficient funds. The debt includes pending bills as of June 2022.

The Njoro-based campus depends on the exchequer and in the current financial year, the government capped Egerton's annual budget at Sh3.7 billion against a requirement of Sh5 billion, leading to a deficit of Sh1.3 billion.

As of 2019, the debt burden was Sh6 billion but on the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the debt has almost doubled as the management of the Njoro-based campus made frantic efforts to rescue the sinking institution with little success from the previous regime.

Not even the new government of President William Ruto seems to give the institution any hope of extending the rescue plan which has seen the institution reduce the lecturers' salaries by 40 per cent to keep it alive.