President William Ruto has hinted at altering the funding model for public universities, which will see the cash-strapped institutions admit students based solely on the government’s ability to support them rather than their performance in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations.
If implemented, the change will result in fewer students receiving government sponsorship, as opposed to the current situation in which all students with a minimum university entry grade of C+ are eligible for government assistance.
The move is likely to resurrect self-sponsored programs (Module II), which drew students who were denied government funding and generated billions of shillings for universities.
“Funding for public universities remains inadequate, with multiple implications for their performance and capacity to contribute optimally to the national agenda.
“I want to commit that my administration is going to ensure that we create a framework that makes it possible for every university to admit students that the Government of Kenya can support,” President Ruto said on Thursday when he officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of tuition blocks at the Technical University of Kenya (TUK) in Nairobi.
“We have received recommendations from different stakeholders and they are practical and workable. When we finally come through with the recommendations from the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER), we’ll capture all the aspects so that the 50 percent of resources that are available to the universities at the moment, which is making it very difficult for our institutions of higher learning to carry out the courses and train our young people appropriately, we can close the gaps and ensure that we provide alternative sources of funding so that there should be adequate funding for all the courses,” he said.
Universities Fund (UF) Chief Executive Geoffrey Monari stated that the decision would help universities get out of their financial bind.
According to reports, public universities have accumulated debts totaling Sh56.1 billion.
Mr. Monari explained that the fund has proposed three options for university funding: increasing student fees, supporting only students who can afford it, and supporting students based on their needs.
He did, however, rule out raising fees anytime soon, stating that the timing would be inconvenient because many families are struggling financially.
“Under the Differentiated Unit Cost arrangement (DUC) that is used for capitation, all students placed in universities by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) are expected to be funded by the government to the tune of 80 percent of the unit cost,” Mr. Monari said.
“However, due to lack of sufficient funds, the allocation started at 66 percent in public universities in the financial year 2017/2018 and gradually reduced to 48.11 percent in public universities and 21.94 percent for private universities in 2021/2022,” he explained.
The total number of government-sponsored students in both public and private universities is 434,631 with a DUC requirement of Sh87.3 billion, but the available budget is Sh47.4 billion. This leaves a deficit of about Sh40 billion.
A total of 78,650 government-sponsored students are currently admitted to private universities, with a DUC requirement of Sh12.3 billion. However, the government has only provided Sh3.4 billion.