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Egerton to lay off staff as cash crunch bites deeper

Rose Mwonya,
Egerton University VC Prof Rose Mwonya, during an interview at City Campus on January 8 2016 PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NMG 

Egerton University has announced a layoff plan and a cut on allowances following a cash crunch caused by a drop in students enrollment.

Vice Chancellor Rose Mwonya said the institution had come up with austerity measures due to a decline in funding from the government and finances from self-sponsored programmes.

Some of the measures include retrenchment and retirement of all staff who have attained retirement age.

“The university will scale down expenditure for selected services,” said Prof Mwonya (left).

The university is the latest to announce austerity measures following the sharp drop in the number of Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates scoring the C+ and above.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows Egerton University enrollment declined to 11,593 last year from 13,928 in 2015, making it the first drop since the government started disclosing student numbers in the 1990s.

The number of students enrolling for the lucrative parallel degree, which has been the institution’s money minting machine over the past decade, has also dropped.

Prof Mwonya did not indicate how many staff will be retrenched or timelines for the layoffs. The University has about 1,946 employees.

University of Nairobi is also planning job cuts and expenses such as tea and snacks following reduced earnings after its enrollment declined to 67,827 this year from 98,715 in 2015.

Egerton University has also resolved to boost its come generating units like the dairy plant that make items like yogurt.

Speaking during graduation ceremony at Moi University last week, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed asked universities to consider sacking some staff for sustainability.

Ms Mohamed said universities must address the ratio of technical staff to support staff who are in the institutions.

Ms Mohamed said the number of support staff is too high.

“We are encouraging and supporting rationalisation to guarantee sustainability of institutional operations,” said Ms Mohamed.

Universities have a total of 27,000 staff, 9,000 being lecturers while the rest are non-teaching staff. However, she did not disclose the number of staff to be affected by sacking.

She also added that the government supports ongoing austerity measures in universities and asked them to rethink strategies to raise sustainable operations capital.

This financial year, the government allocated Sh91.1 billion to support University Education; and Sh9.6 billion to the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb).

Universities be they public or private have been struggling for the last two years due to lack of enough students.

At the University of Nairobi, the management has ordered staff on leave to surrender their offices for use by others.

Acting Deputy Vice -Chancellor Finance and Administration Prof Isaac Mbeche said some staff were retaining their offices even when proceeding on leave of absence.

“Whilst the University appreciates that the staff are serving the country in other capacities, it is unfair and unreasonable to have other teaching staff without offices yet offices within their departments or schools remain locked,’ said Prof Mbeche in a memo to principals of colleges at the institution dated August 29..

He directed staff on leave to remove their belongings in the offices and allow other teaching staff to use them.

“Meanwhile staff that exit service through retirement should surrender their offices as part of clearing process,” he added.

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