Fees shocker for new varsity students

Ezekiel Machogu

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang (centre), Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu (right) and TSC chief executive Dr. Nancy Macharia at Mtihani House on Friday.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

The 173,345 candidates who qualified for university admission will have to pay significantly higher fees than their predecessors in a yet-to-be determined formula that is currently under discussion.

Education cabinet secretary Ezekiel Machogu has revealed that consultations are ongoing at high levels of government to come up with a method of funding university education given the ever-rising number of form four graduates.

Speaking with Sunday Nation yesterday, Mr Machogu said although a decision has not been arrived at on the method to be employed, not all the 173,345 candidates who scored a mean grade of C+ and above will get government sponsorship.

“The level of funding has remained the same yet the number has more than doubled since 2016. The Ministry of Education takes 25 per cent of the national budget. If we’re to sponsor everybody, it could rise even to 35 per cent,” the CS said.

This means that those who qualify but will not get government sponsorship will have to finance their university education. Mr Machogu said that his ministry would rely on the recommendations of the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER) at the end of March to make a decision on the new policy change.

The Education CS said that there are “many discussions” going on regarding university funding. President William Ruto recently hinted at the new policy shift, saying that funding for university education will only be for needy students.

“We have students in academies who pay Sh200,000 a term but when they go to university, we tell them we can pay for all of them. Why? If a parent is able to pay for their child in primary and in secondary, why don’t we allow them to pay for their child in university so that we support the children of the people who cannot afford,” Dr Ruto said during an interview with journalists at State House on January 4 2023.

Students in public universities have over the last three decades paid Sh16,000 as tuition fees, irrespective of their courses, with the government expected to foot the balance. It is this obligation that universities administrations accuse the government of not fulfilling, plunging them in their current financial woes.

Mr Machogu said that the government would come up with a sustainable and permanent solution for higher education. He supported proposals to merge the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB), Universities Fund and the Tvet Fund. “Students get money from constituency bursaries, county government bursaries and Helb. You can’t know who’s given what. These need to be harmonised so that we have system to identify Kenyans who’re needy,” the CS said.

The number of students qualifying for university admission has gone back to the figures before ex-education cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i instituted reforms aimed at curbing rampant cheating in national examinations. The strict measures saw the number of university qualifiers drop from 169,492 in 2015 to 88,928 in 2016.

Mr Machogu said that the measures hurt the higher education sector.