Corporate

Bill caps varsity deputy VCs at three

parliament

The National Assembly in session. FILE PHOTO | NMG

john-mutua-img

Summary

  • Public universities will not hire more than three deputy vice-chancellors under a proposed law that comes amid calls to restructure the institutions in the wake of mounting debts.
  • The proposed changes come at a time of increased calls to restructure public universities and merge others as the institutions grapple with debts estimated at Sh34 billion.
  • The International Monetary Fund in April said public universities should be restructured to save them from financial distress, further cementing the push by the State to reorganise the institutions.

Public universities will not hire more than three deputy vice-chancellors under a proposed law that comes amid calls to restructure the institutions in the wake of mounting debts.

The changes are contained in the State-backed Universities Amendment Bill (2021) that will for the first time cap the number of deputies at the institutions.

Institutions like the University of Nairobi (UoN) and Kenyatta University (KU) have four deputy vice-chancellors who are in charge of finance, administration, academics and research.

The proposed changes come at a time of increased calls to restructure public universities and merge others as the institutions grapple with debts estimated at Sh34 billion.

“The vice-chancellor of a public university shall be supported in the execution of his or her duties by not more than three deputy vice-chancellors,” reads the Bill sponsored by Majority Leader Amos Kimunya.

Universities with more than three deputy vice-chancellors will have six months to amend their statutes once the proposals are passed into law.

This is the first time that positions of deputy vice-chancellors will be capped and comes at a time the Treasury and Parliament are pushing to merge public universities in efforts to cut costs.

The Treasury first announced plans to merge the public varsities in June 2019 but the plans flew into headwinds after the Education ministry instead said it would pursue comprehensive reforms.

The International Monetary Fund in April said public universities should be restructured to save them from financial distress, further cementing the push by the State to reorganise the institutions.

The UoN last month abolished its eight colleges and collapsed functions around faculties from 35 to 11 in a move to eliminate duplication and cut costs

All positions of principals and deputy principals were abolished and their roles were reorganised under new positions of executive and associate deans.

The UoN like other public universities is grappling with cashflow challenges in the wake of reduced government funding and the sharp fall in the number of self-sponsored students.

The institutions are struggling to honour obligations such as payroll taxes, retirement benefits, and insurance premiums for employees, according to a report tabled in Parliament.

The public universities owe the Kenya Revenue Authority, National Hospital Insurance Fund, National Social Security Fund, pension schemes, insurance companies and saccos about Sh34 billion, according to a report tabled in the National Assembly.