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Outsource functions“As part of the rationalisation process and in order to promote efficiency, we recommend that the Universities should outsource as much of their non-core functions as possible. This will bring about efficiency in the operations of the university while at the same time cutting down on direct labour expenses. Last month, Education CS George Magoha warned that university reforms were inevitable and told VCs to brace themselves for hard choices in the coming days. “The tough decisions will come with some of you losing jobs. You may not be VCs’, but you will still have your salaries,” Prof Magoha told VCs at a closed door meeting. Also to be hit by the impending reforms are students joining universities who will be forced to dig deeper into the pockets to fund their education. The team of vice-chancellors has proposed that university fees be raised from the current Sh 16,000 to Sh48,000. The committee argued that the current fees has remained stagnant for the last three decades, even as the institutions struggle to meet student needs. “Cognizant of the huge funding gap to public Universities, and that the current level of tuition fees payment (Sh16,000) has not only remained constant for three decades, but is also significantly lower than tuition fees payments in secondary schools, we recommend an upward revision of university tuition fees to Sh48,000,” the VCs said. The recommendations on university categorisation are in line with proposals in the 2019/20202 budget that over 32 universities be closed down or merged as a way of cutting down costs and making the institutions more self-reliant. Kenya has 74 universities, 31 of them public. There are also 18 private universities, five private constituent colleges and 14 institutions with Letters of Interim Authority. The team also wants the Government to fund research in universities and set aside more money for post graduate students. It also wants government funding tied to student numbers, away form the current model where universities are allocated capitation without much regard to the numbers of students enrolled and the respective programmes in which they are enrolled. The VCs also want more autonomy for universities to operate without undue influence or interference. Among the challenges identified by VCs were poor funding structures, lack of adequate academic staff and lack of disciplinary focus.