University of Embu Vice Chancellor Daniel Mugendi

University of Embu Vice Chancellor Daniel Mugendi at a past function. The chairman of the Public Universities Vice Chancellors Committee has defended the new funding model. 

| File | Nation Media Group

Why public universities’ VCs approve of new funding model

Vice-chancellors have defended the new funding model for higher education unveiled in June, saying it favours vulnerable households.

The funding includes scholarships, loans and household contributions on a graduated scale determined by a means testing instrument.

Public Universities Vice Chancellors Committee chairperson Prof Daniel Mugendi said: “I am surprised that we are talking about fees having been increased in universities. There are no fees that have been increased. The model proposed by the government is going to favour everyone. We have already released letters to new students joining us, but I don’t think they are reading those letters because they are very clear on what they need to do.”

In line with the new funding model for universities and technical and vocational education and training colleges, government funding will only be granted to students in public institutions.

Prof Mugendi, who is also the Embu University Vice-Chancellor, said according to the new model, the vulnerable students will be fully funded through 82 per cent scholarship from the government and 18 per cent through a loan from the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) .

“The extremely needy will get 70 per cent scholarship, 30 per cent Helb loan and households will not pay anything whereas the needy will get 53 per cent scholarship, 40 per cent Helb loan and households will pay 7 per cent. The less needy will get 38 per cent scholarship, 55 per cent loan and households pay 7 per cent,” explained the VC in an interview with Citizen TV.

He went on: “If you look at the contribution of households here, if you take from the cheapest programme which costs about Sh122,600, households will only be contributing Sh8,500 per year ... how cheap can it be?”

For medicine courses, which are the most expensive, Prof Mugendi said households will only contribute Sh42,800 per year.

He noted that in the old funding model set 34 years ago, all students were paying Sh16,000.

“But with time, universities became innovative and started introducing other things like statutory deductions, statutory payments, fees, internet and other things so in total, students used not to pay Sh16,000 but averagely between Sh40,000 to Sh50,000. So every semester they are paying Sh25,000 so in the current model they are paying less,” he said.

The VC assured all students placed in various public universities that they will be categorised accordingly and get funding , even as he dismissed assertions that the new model will increase the fees burden on parents.

Prof Mugendi urged Kenyans to take time to understand the new model.

“We can then think of the loan burden students will carry when they complete their university studies, that is the point. But many of you have gone to developed economies like Europe or the US, where students take education loans to access university education,” he said. “If you want quality education, then someone must be willing to pay for it.”

Higher Education and Research Principal Secretary Beatrice Inyangala said funding will be student-centred and allocated to students according to their level of need. She added that the institutions will also be required to declare and publicise the actual costs of their programmes.

The public universities have also been barred from increasing fees or setting additional charges without approval.

“No public university shall levy additional charges or raise its fees without the approval of the university funding board,” said Dr Inyangala during the Kenya Secondary School Head Teachers Association conference in Mombasa.

The PS said the new model has various benefits to the institutions of higher learning, including promoting equity since there will be equitable allocation of resources, as well as promoting access and retention.

“Universities will be assured of a regular and reliable income since it is individual-centred. It is only meant for those students who will be interested in applying. It is possible to apply for a loan and leave out the scholarship and vice versa,” she added.