Pain for University of Nairobi students as fees double

Bank notes

University of Nairobi students protest on September 20, 2021 against the administration’s decision to increase administrative and accommodation fees.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • University of Nairobi first-years to pay up to Sh100,000 for tuition and accommodation.
  • Student leaders' attempt to disrupt registration of first-years quashed by police officers.

First-year students who started reporting to the University of Nairobi (UoN) yesterday will pay double the fees their predecessors paid, as the institution implements its new charges.

Undergraduate annual tuition and administrative fees have been increased from Sh28,500 to Sh59,000 for the government-sponsored students, sparking protests from the students’ council.

The figure rises even further when accommodation charges, which have been increased more than seven times, are factored in.

Accommodation fees are charged based on type of room and number of occupants.

The fees have risen from between Sh20 to Sh30 per day, translating to Sh5,460 per semester, to more than Sh210 a day or Sh40,320 per semester for a standard room.

The student leaders yesterday mobilised some of the learners and attempted to disrupt registration of first-years, but the demonstration at the main gate was quickly quashed by police officers, who lobbed teargas canisters at them.

The new UoN fees are almost double what first-year students in other public universities will pay.

Tuition fees

Those joining Kenyatta University, for example, will pay Sh41,700, inclusive of Sh7,000 accommodation.

Whereas UoN has not increased tuition fees from the annual Sh16,000 students have been paying for about 30 years, it has increased other administrative charges.

Students will pay Sh4,500 (registration), Sh12,000 (examination fees), Sh7,000 (ICT services), Sh4,000 (library) and Sh6,500 (medical).

Others charges are Sh2,000 (activity), Sh1,000 (student identity card), Sh5,000 (caution, paid once) and Sh1,000 (students council).

The university has also introduced the differentiated unit cost (DUC) system to charge fees for students under the self-sponsored programme (Module II).

Under the system, different units are cost based on factors like their complexity, training equipment and facilities, study hours and also the human resources required.

Students will pay Sh636,000 for courses like bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery for the first year only.

Students' pleas

The total fees to train a medical doctor under the programme at UoN will now be Sh3,806,000.

A bachelor of arts in journalism and media studies will cost self-sponsored students Sh1,116,500 for the four-year course.

“Students must pay the required fees at the banks nearest to their residential homes and bring the bank deposit slips with them when they report for registration,” reads the joining instructions sent to first-year students.

“Details of accommodation account number shall be availed online only to those students who will be allocated rooms.”

Secretary-general of UoN Students’ Council Kikwai Nathan Kiplangat said the university administration had ignored their pleas not to increase the fees.

“Deliberations with administrations on both school fees and accommodation have collapsed. Therefore, there will be mass demonstrations in all UoN campuses beginning from Monday (yesterday),” he said in a statement.

The head of communication at the council, Joshua Kibor Sirma, said many students might fail to join the university owing to the harsh economic situation prevailing in the country.

Loan applications

“It's inhuman to increase fees by double... It doesn't mean that because continuing students are not affected we can't fight for the future generation. We were willing to help the vice-chancellor talk to the government to increase capitation, but the VC didn't give us information yet we need facts to engage the government,” he told the Nation.

UoN Director of Corporate Affairs John Orindi said the increase was unavoidable because the university has been spending more than it receives both in fees and capitation.

“The rate of Sh20 to 30 for accommodation is unrealistic. We need to pay for electricity, water, security, insurance, cleaners and maintenance. There is no university or high school that is charging that rate. They can also look for cheaper alternatives elsewhere. In any case, we can only accommodate 10,000 out of 65,000 students. We give preference to the first-years because they are new in the city,” he said.

Some students and their families are likely to find it difficult to raise the fees since the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) has not yet processed loan applications from new students.

Helb CEO Charles Ringera recently told the Nation that the board was still receiving applications and the earliest they could disburse the money is in October.

“We don’t know how many students will apply so we can’t start processing the money now. That can end up leaving out orphans and other deserving cases,” he said. 

He added that money for continuing students had already been sent to their accounts.