Why 2022 KCSE candidates may not join private universities

Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) CEO Dr Agnes Wahome when she appeared before the National Assembly Public Investment Committee on Education and Governance at Hilton Gardens Hotel in Nairobi on Monday 24th, 2023 on KUCCPS placement. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The government may not place any of the 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates in private universities if a push by Members of Parliament goes through.

This means that 174,965 learners who qualified for university placement will all be posted to public universities across the country.

This was revealed when the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) appeared before the Public Investment Committee on Governance and Education to answer audit questions for the financial year 2018/2019.

All 35 public universities and their constituent colleges have 194,000 spaces which leave 19,035 extra chances that will be left unutilized in public universities.

If the push is successful then the 29,449 slots which had been reserved for private universities by KUCCPS will be diverted and shared amongst the public institutions.

This will save the government billions of shillings from the government-sponsored students KUCCPS sends to private institutions.

‘‘KUCCPS have confirmed that we have more capacity than what is needed and we have agreed with KUCCPS that public universities have the capacity to accommodate all students,’’ the committee's chairperson and Bumula MP Wanami Wamboka said.

According to Wamboka funding private universities has been a thorny issue and MPs will do all possible to bring it to an end.

‘‘We are moving very heavily in next week through parliament and through other legal means we have as a committee to ensure we stop funding,’’ he stated.

Wamboka noted that placing and funding students in private institutions has contributed to the current cash crunch and human capacity in public Universities saying if halted, this will tilt the matrix.

‘‘They have been having challenges because we have been funding private universities and therefore taking funds meant for public institutions away from them, thus why they don’t have money, but if we fund them, they will have the capacity,’’ he stated.

Samburu West MP Naisula Leisuuda wanted to know if placing learners in private institutions was a milking cow for some individuals at the expense of the public institutions.

‘‘The capacity in our universities is enough and we see students shifted to private,’’ Lesuuda said. 

She cited Laikipia University which has a capacity of 19,000 and KUCCPS place only 6,000 learners.

‘‘This is immorality of the highest order. And that is what we are trying to put a stop to as a committee. And we will stop for sure, no stone will be left unturned,’’ she said.

Wamboka noted that some people mischievously changed a clause in the University Act which gave a leeway to allow funding of students in private universities.

‘‘Someone mischievously changed the Act which gave an opportunity to fund private universities. They are approaching some members trying to bribe them, to ensure we go slow on the issue but we will not relent,’’ he said.

‘‘We are aware they are trying to look for the CS and the Head of State to change this. They will run but they will not hide.’’

However, KUCCPS CEO Dr Mercy Wahome said KUCCPS is helpless in making decisions urging the government to pay attention to improving institutional capacity in terms of research facilities and innovation to attract more learners.

Wahome said the funding crisis is embedded in rising student enrolments without a corresponding increase in state allocation to those institutions.

‘‘We are also bothered when we see our public universities slide into oblivion with the mass exodus of learners to private institutions. The sooner we do the better to save our institutions,’’ Dr Wahome said.

MPs also say it's difficult to track the progression of learners in private universities as a majority are said to drop out due to high fees charged in private institutions.

Currently, the Universities are reeling under debts totalling Sh61 billion in workers’ statutory deductions.

The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) Chief Executive Officer, Charles Ringera, earlier indicated the board is experiencing challenges in loaning 140,000 undergraduate university students and tertiary students in Technical Colleges.