Universities in vicious fight to control Sh2b State funding
Public and private universities are locked in a vicious clash for Sh2 billion yearly disbursements from the government.
The Sh2 billion is allocated to private universities to cater for Government-sponsored students.
The Kenya Association of Private Universities chairman, Prof Kisau Mumo explained that the Commission of University of Education (CUE) accredited private universities to admit Government sponsored students as legislated in Universities Act 42 of December, 2012 and revised in 2016 and 2018.
He also said President Uhuru Kenyatta, in 2016 directed that Government sponsored students be admitted as per the Act and was affected in 2016/2017 academic year, where 6,312 students were placed in private universities.
“This was done after the budget had been approved by Parliament and thus no money was allocated to private universities to cater for the 6,312 students,” said Prof Mumo, in a presentation to Parliamentary education committee.
However, Vice Chancellors Committee chairperson, Geoffrey Muluvi said public universities do not fully support the policy on placement of government sponsored student to private universities and should be reviewed.
Prof Muluvi said Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service Kuccps should also consider admitting government sponsored students to private universities once the capacity in public universities is filled.
“The policy of this placement should be reviewed to take into account the idle capacity there is in programs at public universities and we are proposing that Kuccps should only admit Government sponsored students to private universities to pursue programmes that are not available in public universities,” said Muluvi.
Muluvi said money was being raised through Module II programme but from 2015 through the reforms in national examination council, the number of students qualifying to go to universities went down so universities cannot raise adequate funds to sustain them.
But Mumo dismissed the proposals saying it is in bad taste: “I am surprised by Prof Muluvi, he is having conflict of interest because he sits in Kuccps board and we are not sure whether his statement are made as a position of the Vice Chancellor or as member of the board.”
He sought an explanation from National Treasury Principal Secretary Julius Muia on reviewing placement of students to private universities.
“ May you explain whether the budget allocation for students placed in private universities take into consideration the number of students placed at the moment standing at 61,000,?” posed Mumo to the PS who was also in attendance.
He also sought an explanation on whether placement of students to private universities negatively impact public universities.
Currently, Mumo said about Sh2.5 billion is allocated to support government-sponsored students in private universities yet public universities have a deficit of over Sh31 billion.
He stated that public universities are seemingly working towards incorporating a private wing by having parallel programmes.
Muia said that already, universities are grappling with financial difficulties and requested additional funding of up to Sh20 billion.
He said universities, including University of Nairobi, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kisii University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Egerton and Kabianga have in this 2020/2021 financial year requested for additional funding.
“From the numerous requests for additional funding emanating from universities and meeting we have held with them, the National Treasury has noted the financial difficulties facing public universities,” Muia said.
And in explaining the numbers of government sponsored students in private universities, Mumo said that in 2017/2018, the number rose from 18,587 to 29,826 in 2018/2019 to 40,102 in 2019/2020 and 61,237 this financial year.
“In 2016, the government accepted that each student sponsored in private universities will be allocated Sh70,000. In 2017/18 financial year, the Government allocated Sh2 billion for a total of 18,587 students,” explained Mumo.
He said that in 2018/19, the government allocated Sh2 billion for a total of 29,826 students but the amount was revised to Sh1.98 billion.