The government and vice-chancellors of public universities are mulling increasing fees threefold in a bid to ensure financial stability for the institutions that are struggling to offer services.
Should the proposal succeed, universities intend to hike fee from the current rate of Sh 16, 000 per semester to Sh 48, 000 effective mid next year.
The proposal gained momentum at a meeting held on September 23 at Jogoo house that brought together top Ministry of Education officials and senior managers in all public universities.
Public universities have come under financial strain in recent years as a result of rapid expansion amid the dip in student enrolment, lower State funding and mismanagement.
An internal report prepared by the Ministry of Education says fee increment is among the measures that should urgently be undertaken to keep the institutions of higher learning afloat.
The Sh 16, 000 fee was set in 1991 when the government halted the free university education scheme and instead replaced it with the student loans scheme, the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB).
The push for review of the fees comes at a time universities are experiencing a sharp fall in enrolment on self-sponsored programmes after the government opted to fully fund students scoring the mandatory C+ grade in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams.
Previously, universities minted billions of shillings through the parallel degree programme courses.
Cost university courses
“The students paying should pay realistic tuition fees. Thus, review the Sh16,000 tuition payable since 1992,” reads a resolution made by the vice-chancellors.
The proposal by the VCs has subsequently been sent to the State and University Funding Board (UFB) —which is mandated to cost university courses and fees afresh—for approval.
Currently, universities charge Sh 26, 000 annually, out of which Sh 16, 000 goes towards tuition, while the rest is for registration, amenity, medical and activity fees. Of the Sh 16, 000, a student pays Sh 8000 while HELB is supposed to meet the other half.
According to the Secretary General of Kenya Universities Students Union (KUSU) Dr Charles Mukhwaya, the government has failed to meet part of its bargain on funding.
Instead of the government funding each student up to 80 percent as agreed upon under the Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC), a model whereby institutions are allocated budgets based on the number of undergraduate students they register for the state-funded regular programme, and the kinds of courses they take, it has only been giving up to 46 percent, leaving a deficit of 34 per cent.
Under DUC, liberal arts courses are offered less allocation compared to specialised degrees like engineering and medicine. Before the DUC, each academic programme was allocated a flat rate of Sh120,000 per year per student. “Universities have been forced to shoulder the deficit not met by the government. The state needs to increase funding to universities to make them financially stable,” says Dr Mukhwaya.
Dr Mukhwaya also proposes that the government should stop funding some students in private universities and instead fund them through public universities.
“All those students in private universities being funded by the government should be re-admitted to public universities to increase revenue for the institutions,” he says.