Let those who can afford, pay university fees

Graduants Muriuki Jane Ireri with Doctor of Philosophy in Supply chain Management and Grace Okello with Doctor of Philosophy in Enterprenureship after graduating during the 38th Jkuat virtual graduation on June 28, 2022. [David Gichuru,Standard]

When everyone was scrambling for the elusive Covid-19 vaccine, the government created an unnecessary hula baloo by insisting that no one should go for any other jab apart from the government sanctioned and administered Astra Zeneca.

I thought this storm in a tea cup was pointless and at that time a political statement meant to humiliate then Deputy President William Ruto who had gone against the grain by getting vaccinated with a Russian Sputnik V shot.

The government fronted Astra Zeneca was free though in short supply, while the Russian jab cost between Sh8,000 and Sh11,000.

At that time, I wrote an article asking the government to let those who could, to commercially access the vaccine, while the government gave the free Astra Zeneca to those who could not.

After all, there was an acute shortage of vaccines and African governments were begging for their fair share.

This brings me to President Ruto's proposal that those who can afford, should pay fees for their university children. True, there are thousands of parents who cannot afford full fees for their children, but there a few who are more than capable.

These, I agree with the president, should not take advantage of government subsidies, but should pay a sizeable amount if not the entire fees.

This could be just what the doctor ordered for our public universities.

And in any case, why should the government subsidise families who shop in Italy and/or at Savile Row?

However, there must be equity in admission of students and in payment of such fees.

Currently, it makes no sense for students to pay what they call module two university fees simply because they attained slightly lower points than their colleagues in KCSE, yet they are attending the same class. How does money even out the grades?

These few students who pay more than four times what their colleagues pay, do not necessarily come from financially sound backgrounds, but they are taking courses of their passion.

Some parents taking children through this module, struggle but are disappointed that nobody recognises their efforts by ensuring the students get quality education.

Students in most private universities start serious studies on the first day of the semester.

If for any reason a lecturer does not attend class, a valid reason is given and a remedial class arranged.

Can the same be said about (some) public universities? While any laxity on part of universities affects all students, those paying parallel programme university fees, feel most cheated.

So, while I agree with the president that those who can afford should pay, value for money should be prioritised.

The universities must also observe integrity in management and in teaching.