Job cuts loom in 74 universities and campuses after the Treasury on Thursday directed the merger of the institutions.
Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich in his Budget announced radical measures that will see some of the 32 public universities merge and some of their satellite campuses shut across the country.
The merger of universities and campuses as well review of academic courses means that some staff will have to be let go.
Public universities have 27,000 staff with 9,000 being lecturers.
“We shall review all the university public financial and management systems, appraise ongoing projects with a view to restructuring them and implement radical measures that will include merger or closure of some universities and university campuses that are not able to sustain their operations against the number of students admitted or degree offered,” said Mr Rotich yesterday.
He further set aside Sh97.7billion to support university education and Sh12.6billion to the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB).
“The ministry is advising us but there is a funding challenge to the universities. Currently the funds are shared on the Differentiated Unit Cost but some of the universities end up getting seriously under-funded,” added Mr Rotich. “I won’t give specifics on dates, but the ministry with CUE will do a review on the degrees offered and the number of student admissions which is guiding the merger plans.”
Since 2016, several campuses have been shut across the country after lower entry grade cut student population, adversely affecting the lucrative parallel degree programmes in which students paid fees based on market rates.
The universities have been the hardest hit by the sharp drop in the number of Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education candidates scoring the C+ and above grade required for university entry, further worsening its cash flow.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data shows university enrolment decreased to 426,965 last year from 452,494 in 2016 — a decline of 25,529.
Some of the universities that have shut some of their campuses include Kisii, Laikipia, Moi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya Methodist University, Catholic University of East Africa and the University of Baraton. Others are Co-operative (Meru), Kabarak (Nairobi) and South Eastern Kenya University (Nairobi).