The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) has moved to court to block the University of Nairobi (UoN) from doubling its fees.
UoN has more than doubled fees for postgraduate courses and parallel degrees from an average of Sh275,000 to more than Sh600,000.
Popular degree courses like commerce, economics and law, under the parallel plan, have been increased by up to 70 per cent to about Sh1 million for the four years.
This is the first major fees review for postgraduate courses and parallel degrees in nearly two decades that Kenya's leading public university has approved in a bid to stabilise its unstable financial base which is reeling under a deficit of more than Sh1billion.
The UoN executive board on May 17 approved the increased fees and published the fees and their details including unit per cost on its official website which was published on May 19 ahead of the implementation in the August/September intake.
However, KMPDU in a lawsuit filed by their lawyers Wafula, Washika and Associates Advocates at the Constitutional and Human Rights Division Court in Nairobi on Monday under certificate of urgency challenged the threefold increment of fees through a petition dated June 28.
Matter of urgency
The union through their lawyers argued that the increase of the fees was tantamount to violation and threatening of their fundamental freedoms under various articles of the constitution of Kenya.
The union in their petition filed before Justice Antony Charo Mrima further argued that the fees increase conflicts with the Universities Act of 2012 sections, the UoN statues of 2013, Kenya's Vision 2030 as well as Kenya's Health policy (2014-2030).
"We verily believe that it is necessary to hear and determine this application as a matter of urgency despite the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic as the petitioner and its members need to apply for the August/September 2021 intake," argued KMPDU lawyer Edgar Washika Ochima.
Justice Mrima ordered that the application and the petition be served upon the respondents' Universities Funding Board within three days.
Justice Murima further ordered that the matter be fixed for directions on July 19 and the consideration of prayers 2 and 3 of the Notice of Motion as the respondent has published the increased fees guidelines on its website and the UoN Statutes, 2013.
The statute states that all students admitted to the university for any degree, diploma, certificate or other awards of the university shall pay the university such registration fees, tuition fees and other charges as Council may from time to time determine.
"All fees and other charges due shall be paid at the commencement of the semester they are due and in any case not beyond the third week of the semester. No students shall be allowed into lectures, examination rooms or participate in activities which have not been fully paid for," reads part of the statute.
UoN students have protested the increased fees and want the university management to rescind the decision or else they threatened to protest and paralyse learning at the institution.