Universities demanding fees, first-year students say

Technical Universirty of Mombasa

Learners outside the Technical University of Mombasa on September 11, 2023, when new students started reporting at the institution.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Some public universities appear to have defied a government directive to admit first-year students without demanding fees as they await the processing of their scholarship and loan applications.

The Nation has established that despite denials by the Vice Chancellors Committee of Public Universities (VCCPU) on Friday that some universities were demanding some payment before admission, a high number of students say they have been asked to pay varying amounts in fees.

As a result, thousands of students have not been registered for the courses they are supposed to study and have not been issued student identity cards. They are also unable to access essential university services, including the library.

It has been reported that some universities are demanding a payment of at least 7 per cent, which is the minimum contribution that households are expected to pay towards fees.

The government, through the Higher Education Fund, which includes the Universities Fund (UF) and the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb), will process the funding for students next month after the application deadline was extended to October 7. The funding will be in the form of bursaries and loans for tuition fees. In addition, students will apply for regular Helb loans for their living expenses.

“For the avoidance of doubt, no public university has required the payment of tuition fees. Accordingly, no student has been turned away from any public university for non-payment of tuition fees. For those public universities where accommodation is available on campus, students are only asked to pay accommodation fees,” said Prof Daniel Mugendi, who is the VCCPU and VC of Embu University.

At the Technical University of Mombasa, hundreds of students were registering yesterday. However, some said that they were required to pay 7 per cent of the total fee before being admitted. The Nation caught up with a distraught student who had not paid the fees demanded and had to call his parents in Wajir to inform them of the new development.

“I don’t know where to go if my parents can’t raise the 7 per cent. I came to Mombasa on Friday, it’s my first time here,” he said. “I wish there was clarity in this saga of university admissions. On the one hand, the government is telling students to go to university because it is sorting out the mess, but on the other, the institutions are refusing to admit us without paying some money,” he said.

Another student said he had paid Sh10,000 but was yet to be issued a student card.

“I was selected to study Bachelor of Commerce. I have completed registration after paying 7 per cent of the total fees in one semester. I have been told that classes will start on September 18,” said the student.

A freshman who was initially selected to study medicine at the University of Nairobi told the Nation that his parents changed his course and that he was also told to pay 7 per cent of the total fees. He will now study for a bachelor’s degree in information and communication technology.

A parent whose daughter has been admitted to Kenyatta University was restless after some bursars insisted that they pay a “little” while waiting for government funds.

“They are harassing us verbally through the student to “do something as soon as possible” and yet the CS for Education was clear about this kind of arrangement,” said the parent who wished to remain anonymous.

At Murang’a University of Technology, first-year students were required to pay a minimum of Sh6,000 upon admission, but those who did not have the money were still allowed on campus. However, none of them have registered for courses as the portal only allows registration after full payment of fees. They have also not been issued with student identity cards.

“We’re waiting for the funds to be processed before we can register for the courses,” said one student.

At Egerton University, Njoro campus, many students have not reported even though classes have started.

“We started studying last week after paying our accommodation fees but the class is half empty because most of the freshers have not reported,” said a student. Apart from the accommodation fee, another student said he had paid for the student card, registration and laboratory materials. “Other fees are programme-related. For example, those taking chemistry have to pay for lab coats, exercise books and glasses. These items were not listed in the fee statement,” she said.

At Moi University, a first-year student in the Faculty of Arts said he had paid 7 per cent of the total fees, while others had been asked to pay at least 3 per cent. This is despite a memo from the VC informing students that they would be registered without the need to pay fees.

Higher Education Principal Secretary Beatrice Inyangala told the Nation that she would ensure that the ministerial directive was complied with.

Reporting by David Muchunguh, Winnie Atieno, Francis Mureithi, Mercy Simiyu and Stanley Kimuge