Inside proposals to raise university fees in struggling universities

Universities are set to increase fees from KES 16,000 to KES 48,000 for new government-sponsored students joining in September, according to a proposal to deal with the financial crisis the institutions are facing. However, continuing students will pay the old fees until they complete their university education.

The government will also no longer automatically sponsor students who scored C+ and above, and all students will have to apply for government funding, which will consider merit, need, national priorities, and affirmative action.

Moreover, students who score an A in the KCSE but do not meet any of the selection criteria will miss out on state funding and will have to finance their university education. These proposals were adopted at the First Biennial Universities Funding conference in Mombasa, where Vice-Chancellors of public and private universities, principals of constituent colleges, and government agencies involved in funding higher learning institutions were present.

The conference proposed various other ways universities could raise funds to plug their deficits, such as increasing fees to KES 96,000, enhancing retention by improving the campus experience, and leasing campus spaces/grounds/farms to raise rental income.

It was also proposed that universities could invest in branded merchandise, such as T-shirts and cups, for sale to students, staff, and the public, and enhance their new media presence to generate income and boost the visibility of university programs. Other proposed ways included creating short professional courses to generate extra income, creating an endowment fund in universities to generate additional revenue, and fully funding new development projects to avoid suspensions of budget allocations.

To stabilize universities, the conference also proposed that debts owed to various statutory bodies, totaling KES 61 billion, be written off. The national government was also urged to take decisive and necessary decisions, such as clearing the pending Pension Bill of KES 19.6 billion in targeted installments and writing off the pending PAYE bill of KES 18 billion owed to the Kenya Revenue Authority by public universities.

The conference also proposed that the government remit money to pay the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) in full, including arrears amounting to KES 2.9 billion, and that there should be no more CBAs until pending issues are resolved.

However, the recommendation that students must apply afresh for state funding to determine their suitability for state support may shock parents and students.

Presently, all students who get placed by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) and get admitted to universities receive automatic state funding regardless of the need.

Instead, only deserving cases will now get state funding to pursue degree, certificate, and diploma courses in higher institutions of learning if the conference’s resolutions are adopted. This means that all the 173,345 students who scored C+ and above will have to make fresh applications to be considered for state funding, and those who do not succeed will have to pay their university bills.




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