Kenyatta, Maseno and Moi universities have overtaken the University of Nairobi in the fees they charge for medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, which are the most expensive courses on offer.
An analysis of fee structures for the highly sought-after courses in Kenya shows that medicine, dentistry and pharmacy have remained the highest-priced programmes.
Medical doctors, who are graduates of these courses, are among the highest-paid professionals.
Data from the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) shows that it costs Sh612,000 per year to study a degree in medicine at Kenyatta University (KU), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Maseno University (MSU) and Moi University (MU).
The same course goes for Sh306,000 at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MUST) making it the most affordable option among public universities.
It is followed by Kisii University (KSU) at Sh461,210 and the University of Nairobi (UoN) at Sh539,750.
The data shows only two universities are offering a degree in dentistry surgery including UoN where it is going for Sh521,000 and Moi University where it costs Sh612,000 a year.
Students opting to pursue medicine in private universities will pay Sh510,000 yearly at Mount Kenya University (MKU) and Sh592,500 at Uzima University.
Surgeons and medical doctors in Kenya earn an average of Sh500,000 monthly with those in private practice taking home higher perks.
The KUCCPS portal shows students opting to pursue a degree in pharmacy will pay Sh428,400 at Maseno and KU, those taking the course at Kisii University will pay Sh418,770 while those enrolling at UoN pay Sh413,950 per year.
Before the new funding model, the government through the Universities Fund (UF) would send block funding to the institutions based on the number of undergraduate students enrolled and the courses they selected.
Under the Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) model, financing for a degree in clinical medicine and clinical dentistry would each cost Sh720,000 annually, while veterinary medicine would cost Sh564,000.
Aside from doctors, other top earners in the country are judges, pilots, lawyers, architects, engineers and accountants highlighting universities' drive to offer courses in those fields due to high demand.
For students opting to pursue Law, MKU offers the best price at Sh170,000 annually, compared to the cost of the same programme in some public universities including Moi (Sh183,600), Maseno (Sh183,600), Egerton (Sh214,700), UoN (Sh221,850) and KU (Sh183,600).
Daystar University charges the highest rates for students enrolling to study law at Sh335,000 per year, followed by Africa Nazarene University (Sh269,250) and Kabarak University (Sh256,250).
For the first time, the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) has published courses and their costs as offered by public and private universities as well as vocational colleges, to allow students freedom of choice.
As envisaged under the newly unveiled funding model, the move portends survival for the fittest among the institutions with the scramble for students now shifting to the quality of programmes and the costs pegged on it.
“Since now funding is student centred, the universities are now compelled to focus on the quality they offer to attract the students,” says KUCCPS chief executive Mercy Wahome.
Data from the Ministry of Education shows some 173,345 candidates that sat the 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) scored C+ and above, compared to 145,776 recorded the previous year.
An engineering course at UoN goes for Sh374,850 compared to the Sh336,600 charged at JKUAT, KU and the University of Eldoret.
Technical University of Kenya (TUK) offers the same course at Sh300,00 per year while the Technical University of Mombasa offers it at Sh302,940.
Under the DUC, the state capitation for engineering was Sh396,000 yearly per student.
Kisii University, Maasai Mara University and MUST are the cheapest public universities offering a degree in journalism, which costs Sh153,000. The same course cost Sh240,550 at UoN, Sh233,440 at Egerton, Sh204,00 at JKUAT and at KU.
An analysis on the KUCCPS portal shows private universities offer much friendlier rates for journalism courses with MKU offering the course at Sh105,000, Zetech University at Sh142,600 and KCA University at Sh133,790.
Under the new model, funding will be student centred and be apportioned according to their levels of need classified into four — vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy.
Funding to students will combine scholarships, loans and household contributions on a graduated scale, which will be scientifically determined.
“We have given the burden of more loans to people who can pay, and they have a choice on whether to take the loans or not,” said UF chief executive Geoffrey Monari.