The government is pursuing a funding formula for both public and private universities to address the financial crisis threatening the future of institutions of higher learning.
President William Ruto blames poor structures in university funding which he says led to underfunding but promised to find a lasting solution.
‘‘Most of our universities are facing many challenges and serious debts and recently one of the university CEOs was taken to court. The reason is that we are giving half of the required funding in our universities,’’ he said during an interview with the media on Wednesday.
Ruto said there is need for the government to engage universities to get them out of the woods, noting the State is supporting so many students with little money available.
‘‘We are going to have a conversation with both public and private universities and from there, where we are possibly not going to finance, we have to be honest with ourselves,’’ Ruto said.
President Ruto noted that many parents who have been able to sponsor their children in academies in basic education turn to university funding, clouding out vulnerable students.
‘‘We have students in academies all through from standard one to form four, but when they go to university we want to tell them we can pay for all of them,’’ Ruto stated.
‘‘We need to be honest with ourselves that let those who can afford pay and let us think about how we can assist those who cannot afford rather than pretending that we are going to support all the children even when we are not in the position to.’’
Ruto promised to collapse the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB), University Funding Board and TVET Fund and introduce a National Skills and Funding Council, dubbed National Education Fund, which will mobilise grants, bursaries, and scholarships, link the two levels to provide credit transfer framework and support academic progression.
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“To bridge the current higher education funding gap of up to 45 per cent, the government will establish the National Skill and Funding Council that amalgamates HELB, TVET, and University Funding Board,’’ Ruto said.
According to the current budget, HELB is allocated a capitation of Sh15.8 billion, University Funding Board Sh91.2 billion and TVET Fund Sh5.2 billion.
‘‘Students continue to join universities without enough funding and find themselves here. We will ensure we harmonise all these institutions so that placing of students should be followed with funding and supporting bursary,’’ Ruto said.
He added: “This will immediately double the current Higher Education Loans Board funding from Sh11 billion to Sh22 billion and make the HELB loan interest-free.”
Ruto also assured the government intention of spending Sh15 billion on equipping 70 TVET institutions that will assist in the training of learners in readiness for the labour market.
“Establish and fully equip a Technical Training and Vocational Educational Training Institution in the remaining 52 constituencies within the first two years,” he said.
Ruto also said the government is in the process of hiring tutors to take care of TVET institutions.