Reform university education financing


The University of Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

There is a need for reforming university financing to forestall deterioration of the quality of education in our institutions of higher learning.

Public universities have come under financial strain in recent years as a result of rapid expansion amid a dip in student enrolment, lower State funding and mismanagement.

The funding crisis is likely to lower the quality of education, worsening the already problematic skills gap in the labour market.

Kenya's rate of unemployment has been on an increase while at the same time industry managers are complaining of half-baked graduates.

This mismatch can only get worse if universities are unable to fund programmes and pay staff.

Radical reforms are needed in the universities, including a review of student fees, sourcing for new income streams, increasing State funding and strengthening the Higher Education Loans Board's capacity.

The fact that universities have not reviewed fees for over two decades has created a disconnect with the current market realities on the cost of providing higher education.

However, while a review of fees, including tuition and accommodation is necessary, universities should not increase fees drastically.

The review should be reasonable and make it affordable for parents to educate their children.

The differentiated unit cost (DUC) funding model should also be reviewed to make sure the State meets the 80 percent coverage of student funding needs even if it means reducing the enrolment by universities.