What you need to know:
- The government is expected to pay 80 per cent of the cost of degrees per student or at least Sh70,000 annually under the current funding model.
- The state pays the allocation, which has since dropped to 48 per cent on rising enrolment, irrespective of the students’ income status.
- State support per student has dropped from 80 per cent of the cost of a degree to the current 48 per cent on the back of increased enrolment.
Vice-chancellors (VCs) have backed the push for students from rich families to pay more for their education in public universities in efforts to ease a biting cash crunch in the institutions.
A memo from the Ministry of Education has revealed the position of the top university administrators for students from wealthy families to pay the full or a larger share of tuition fees, starting with next year’s intake.
The government is expected to pay 80 per cent of the cost of degrees per student or at least Sh70,000 annually under the current funding model, with the learners in public universities paying about Sh28,000 annually.
The state pays the allocation, which has since dropped to 48 per cent on rising enrolment, irrespective of the students’ income status.
The University Funding Board (UFB), the agency that guides allocations of student funding to universities, is pushing for a cut on government funding for children of the rich in universities.
Public universities’ vice-chancellors have backed UFB and want the allocations reviewed to reflect the students’ income status.
The review will also affect government-sponsored students in private universities, who receive at least Sh70,000 annually depending on the course they are pursuing irrespective of their income status.
The state will vet students in a financing model employed by the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) when disbursing funding, with the rich locked out.
Experts cite scenarios where parents pay Sh175,000 annually for a pupil in Kabarak Primary School and over Sh200,000 in the institution’s secondary schools and less than Sh50,000 at their university section under government sponsorship.
Kenya will follow in the footsteps of Uganda, which is seeking to block children of the rich from getting government funding for degrees in public universities.
Public universities have come under financial strain in recent years as a result of rapid expansion amid lower state funding and a sharp fall in enrolment on self-sponsored programmes after the government opted to fully fund students scoring the minimum C+ entry grade and above in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams.
Students enrolling for the so-called parallel degree courses had over the years generated billions of shillings for the institutions because they paid the full cost of programmes that top over Sh600,000 annually.
State support per student has dropped from 80 per cent of the cost of a degree to the current 48 per cent on the back of increased enrolment.
The drop reduced the flow of state funds to the troubled public universities, forcing some of the institutions to scrap courses, shut down campuses or resort to pay cuts and hiring freezes.
UFB estimates that the funding gap for government-sponsored students in public universities will hit Sh96.27 billion in the year to June 2023 from the current Sh27 billion.
In the 2020/21 financial year, Sh87.317 billion was required to fully fund the 434,631 government-sponsored students at the universities but the Treasury only released Sh47.39 billion, leaving the universities with a hole of Sh39.91 billion.
UFB says Sh20.1 billion is needed to fully finance students who sat their KCSE exam last year and a further Sh30.68 billion will be required to pay for those writing their national tests next month.
The National Treasury May rejected requests for additional funding to the institutions, with the University of Nairobi demanding an extra Sh13.8 billion.