Enrolment for postgraduate surgery courses at the University of Nairobi (UoN) has dropped by a third due to an increase in school fees, further piling financial pressure on the institution that is struggling to stay afloat.
Over the past few years, the university has more than tripled the school fees to Sh680,000 a year from Sh212,000, blocking potential students.
This has seen a drop in enrolment to about 60 students down from 90 as the university moved to match the rising costs of technical courses.
The UoN is just one of the many public universities across the country grappling with financial constraints.
Pending bills by public universities nearly doubled in a span of one year to Sh56.1 billion in the year to June 2022 amid a falling student population and declining government capitation.
State funding to universities is based on the differentiated unit cost (DUC) model under which institutions get allocations based on the number of undergraduate students and the courses they take.
"Surgery needs intense training because life is on the line," said Dr Paul Odula, the Vice President of the Surgical Society of Kenya and the acting chairperson of the Human Anatomy department at the UoN.
Last month, the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) revealed medicine was one of the courses with limited slots, forcing potential applicants to go for alternatives.
According to data from the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists Dentists Union (KMPDU), Kenya has 20 approved medical schools and the number is expected to increase as the demand for medical doctors goes up.
This comes at a time many students are eyeing medicine and surgery in higher learning institutions, even as many graduates remain jobless. KMDPU data shows nearly 4,000 trained doctors are jobless.