Family background to determine amount a university student gets


Graduands follow proceedings during the Moi University 43rd Graduation Ceremony in Kesses, Uasin Gishu County on June 23, 2022.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

Having attended a public or private school, gender, course type and whether a child has siblings with tertiary education will determine one’s university or college funding in the model recently made public by the government.

The other parameters are parents’ background, student’s family size and composition (polygamous, monogamous and the age of parents), marginalisation (whether the students come from marginalised regions) and if such a learner has any form of disability.

This is according to a Means Testing Instrument to be applied by the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) to determine scholarship, loans and household contributions on a graduated scale.

“A key criterion for allocating scholarships and loans is the student’s level of need. This will be scientifically considered to ensure needy students are adequately supported to pursue university education,” a report from the government says.

In line with the new financing model for universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutes, government scholarships will only be granted to students who choose public institutions.

Those who opt for private universities and colleges will only be eligible for loans from the Helb.

Prof Daniel Mugendi, who chairs a forum that brings together vice-chancellors of public universities, supports the new model, which categorises students as vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy.

“The extremely needy cases will get 70 per cent scholarship, 30 per cent Helb loan while households will not pay anything,” Prof Mugendi told Citizen TV this week.

“The needy will get 53 per cent scholarship, 40 per cent Helb loan and households will pay just per cent of the fee. Those categorised as less needy will get 38 per cent scholarship, 55 per cent loan and households will pay seven per cent.”

Of the cheapest programme that costs Sh122,600, households in the needy and less needy category will pay Sh8,500 a year.

The government has funded universities using the Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) for nearly seven years.

The model is based on the number of undergraduate students enrolled in the regular programme and courses undertaken.

The government is expected to cover 80 per cent of the DUC for every student.

As part of the education reforms, the government introduced a funding model after the 35 public institutions accrued huge debts, with VCs blaming the DUC.

The universities have debts amounting to Sh60.6 billion in staff pensions and statutory deductions.

The figure has been growing by the day as interest accrues.

During the Biennial Kenya Universities Funding Conference in Mombasa early this year, University of Nairobi VC Stephen Kiama painted a picture of institutions crippled by debts.

Prof Kiama accused the Ministry of Education of contributing to the mess.

“Some say we drowned because of bad governance, but that is not the case. It was deliberate and planned. Collective bargaining agreements were negotiated and financed in retrospect and not forward. What does one do? Do you raise salaries and continue paying higher salaries? You cannot do that,” he said.

Prof Kiama added that the number of students sitting the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination being admitted to public universities has been declining.

“They are being taken to private universities, so there are none available,” he said.

Many universities were hit hard. Funding reduced.

“The National Treasury was opposed to the system but the Ministry was insistent on cutting our capitation from Sh6.2 billion to Sh4.5 billion,” Prof Kiama said, adding that the CBAs were negotiated but no money was made available.

He cited the UoN which pays monthly salaries amounting to Sh800 million.

“The government gives Sh464 million, out of which Sh186 million goes to PAYE. How do you pay for security, cleaning and other services?” he asked.