Layoffs loom as Moi University grapples with financial woes

Moi University Main Campus in Uasin Gishu County

Moi University main Campus in Uasin Gishu County. Panic has gripped the university as administrators ponder whether to sack some workers to reduce operational costs.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Panic has gripped Moi University as administrators ponder whether to sack some workers to reduce operational costs.

The wage bill has been growing over the years and is unsustainable, now gobbling up 70 per cent of funds from the exchequer, warned Vice-Chancellor Prof Isaac Kosgei in an internal memo

Student enrolment had also declined from 50,000 in 2015 to 27,000 in 2021, non-viable campuses were closed, and government funding is decreasing, he said.

Collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with staff unions had also not been fully funded.

“With the decline in student numbers and the subsequent closure of non-viable campuses, the university maintained the staff despite the closure of subsequent campuses and a decline in revenue,” reads the July 5 memo to university staff.

‘Compulsory redundancies’

Prof Kosgei noted that the university was considering reducing the workforce through ‘compulsory redundancies’.

“This is to notify you of impending redundancy of staff due to continued strain by the university to fully fund its wage bill … and align the human resources to the existing workload,” the memo says.

“As necessary, staff will be selected for redundancy on the basis of set criteria. The university will keep you informed of any developments.”

He disclosed that the management held a meeting with the unions Kusu and Kudheiha on Monday and informed them about the impending redundancies. The University Academic Staff Union (Uasu) and the county labour office have also been notified.

Reached for comment, Uasu Moi University chapter organising secretary Ojuki Nyabuta told the Nation that that the union was consulting on the matter.

Issues pending in court

Mr Nyabuta noted that the management had invited officials from the three university unions for a meeting but Uasu declined to attend as the issues administrators wanted to discuss were pending in court.

“The issues that we were [to discuss] touched on payroll and human resources. We refused to attend the meeting since we felt the issues are currently before the court … As a union, we are still consulting over the contents of the documents before reaching any decision,” he said.

Last year, members of the three unions took industrial action to protest against the non-implementation of their 2017-2021 CBA and non-remittance of statutory deductions, among other grievances.

During Moi’s 43th graduation ceremony held on June 26, Prof Kosgei said the university had embarked on income-generating activities to raise money for its operations and contribute to the country's food security.

Apples

He disclosed that apples cultivated on the university’s farm were expected to hit the market within two months even as it aimed to expand production from 100 acres to over 500 in the next two years.

Last June, the publicly funded university launched apple cultivation targeting local and international markets to generate revenue.

The university also intends to invest in pig, dairy and poultry farming, and plans to revive Elimu millers.

“These efforts are geared towards diversifying our revenue streams and also contribute to the government’s national agenda on food security and nutrition,” said Prof Kosgei during the graduation ceremony.

University Council chairperson Dr Humphrey Nguguna noted that like most public universities, Moi is facing cash-flow problems and income-generating activities would help it meet its financial obligations.

‘The only universities that will survive this financial crisis are those that are focused on income-generation activities. At Moi University, we have an ambitious programme to engage in apple farming,” observed Dr Njuguna. 

“We will start selling the apples and if the project goes as envisaged we will not need any capitation in the next four years.”


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