Reform the financing of public universities


Mount Kenya University graduands celebrate during the graduation ceremony in Thika. FILE PHOTO | DENNIS ONSANGO | NMG

There is a need to reform public university financing to halt the deterioration of the quality of education in our institutions of higher learning.

Public universities have come under financial strain in recent years in the wake of rapid expansion, mismanagement and increased reliance on dwindling State funding.

The structure of Kenya’s budget where debt repayments and civil servants' salaries are eating all taxes makes it difficult for the Treasury to shoulder the burden of university financing.

Therefore, radical financing reforms are needed in the universities, including a review of student fees, sourcing for new income streams and changes to uniform support of students irrespective of their income profile.

Those from rich families must pay the full or a larger share of the cost of degrees, reversing the trend where all students receive State support.

The fact that universities have not reviewed fees for nearly three decades is out of tune with the current market realities on the cost of providing higher education.

However, any review of fees should be reasonable and make it affordable for all parents to educate their children.