Private varsities face Sh1.8bn funding cut


KCA University graduands toss in the air their caps after they graduated with different conferments during the 13th KCA University Graduation Ceremony held at the university on November 26, 2021. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

Private universities have suffered a blow after Parliament recommended a Sh1.8 billion cut in funding for government-sponsored students (GSS) enrolling in the institutions in the year starting July.

The move is in line with a policy shift announced by the State where GSS students opting to join private universities are required to pay their own tuition costs.

The intention is to address the cash flow challenges in public universities that have seen them struggle to honour payroll and pension obligations, pushing pending bills to Sh62 billion by May.

Read: State ends funding for students in private varsities

“Reduce Sh1.8 billion (recurrent) from government-sponsored students in private universities,” said the National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) in its report to the House on the 2023/2024 Budget.

The government has undertaken a raft of reforms, including introducing a new funding model in a bid to restore financial sustainability in public universities as well as in TVETs.

Under the new funding framework, State sponsorship will be through scholarships, loans and bursaries, as opposed to the uniform and quite inequitable capitation witnessed under the differentiated unit cost (DUC) model.

GSS students opting to join private universities will, henceforth, only qualify for loans offered by the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb).

Under the new model, funding is student-centred and will be apportioned according to their levels of need classified into four factors, namely vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy.

Private universities started admitting GSSs in 2016 in a move by the State to address congestion in public institutions.

The Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) allowed students to select courses from whichever university, despite their differing financial backgrounds.

Read: Private varsities set for windfall in new funding policy

Over the past five years, however, nearly all students who scored C+ and above were admitted to the regular university programmes, reducing the pool of learners available for private universities and self-sponsored degree programmes in public universities.

The BAC has also recommended an increase in the budget for Helb in the 2023/2024 financial year.

“Increase Sh12.5 billion (Recurrent) for the Higher Education Loans Board,” said the committee chaired by Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro.

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