Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has warned public universities against relying on government funding for sustainability.
Prof Magoha advised the institutions to revamp their research units to remain afloat in the tough times that have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Universities which rely on the National Research Fund for their research money will go nowhere. University researchers should source money from outside through proposals to keep their universities afloat," said Prof Magoha
He was speaking at Egerton University, Njoro campus during the 43rd graduation ceremony which was held virtually owing to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Academic staff must be able to do research and write proposals to get funds from inside and outside the country instead of waiting for NRF," he added.
He said Egerton University should train academic staff to write proposals to get research funding in key areas such as agriculture and veterinary.
He cited the University of Nairobi during his time as the vice-chancellor when he used to raise Sh500 million annually from donors after writing good funding proposals.
"Egerton University and others will not go anywhere until a significant part of their budget comes from research," said the CS
He urged the Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof Isaac Kibwage to utilise his skills to raise funds to save Egerton University from its current financial mess. The institution has a Sh4.5 billion debt.
“Prof Kibwage, you must do things differently and that is why I supported you to come to Egerton University," said the CS.
He urged Prof Kibwage to start evaluating professors as they approach retirement to establish whether they are bringing money to the university.
"Assess the professors before they retire. Professors should be productive and not just earn hefty salaries without writing research proposals that will bring more funds to the universities," Prof Magoha said on Friday.
He decried the staffing of some public universities which he said resembled tribal institutions.
"If you go to some of the universities, you will find that staff from the messenger to the VC all come from the same community," he added.
"We need to redefine what a university is. A university is not an employment agency for politicians. If we fail to do this now, it will come to haunt us," said the CS.
"As scholars, you should stop being used by politicians," he added.
He urged students to be innovative instead of waiting to be employed by the government which cannot absorb all the graduates from 30 public universities.