Struggling varsities get Sh214m boost

Ukur Yatani

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani. 

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

The National Treasury has responded to the cash crunch in higher learning institutions with Sh214.2 million additional funding to nine universities and colleges.

The supplementary budget shows an increase of Sh151.2 million in recurrent spending for the Technical University of Kenya, Technical University of Mombasa, University of Nairobi (UoN), Kenyatta, Egerton, Maseno Moi, and Masinde Muliro universities, and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

Only Maseno (Sh50 million) and UoN (13.4 million) received additional cash for development spending.

UoN received the biggest chunk of the new recurrent spending at Sh39.2 million, followed by Kenyatta University’s 23.4 million and Moi and JKUAT, which received Sh22 million each.

Top universities have suffered financial constraints amid demands for higher pay that have seen lecturers in UoN, JKUAT Moi, and Egerton issue strike threats in the recent past.

Fee increases

University administrations have been forced to contemplate drastic fee increases, scraping some courses, merging faculties and closing satellite campuses to cut the cost of operations.

The universities have found themselves in dire financial straits due to falling student population, mismanagement and low state funding.

Kenya has 31 chartered universities with 64 campuses and seven constituent colleges across the country.

A report tabled by Treasury on government investments lists 69 corporations in the education sector including universities, polytechnics and technical colleges, which received Sh61.8 billion or 28 per cent of all transfers and recurrent grants.

Treasury said most of the money was spent on public universities, which still required an additional Sh6.9 billion to meet their total expenditure, underlining the cash flow problems at the institutions that have seen them seek to borrow expensive commercial loans.

Sh2.17 billion

UoN had the biggest shortfall of Sh2.17 billion, Kenyatta needed an additional Sh2.13 billion for operations and JKUAT had a Sh1.4 billion deficit.

Egerton needed an additional Sh1.3 billion to stay afloat, Moi was short of Sh1 billion, while the Technical University had a shortfall of Sh769 million.

The funding gap for students in public universities has more than doubled in the past two years, signalling even tougher days ahead for the cash-strapped institutions.

Data from the Universities Fund, which guides the allocation of state cash to public universities, shows that the gap has hit Sh27 billion in the current financial year, a 107.7 per cent jump from Sh13 billion two years ago.