Fight over billions threat to UoN parallel degrees
By Augustine Oduor and Lucas Ngasike
| November 26th 2019
The fight over management of billions generated by module II students at the University of Nairobi (UoN) now threatens to kill the lucrative parallel programme.
The programme has been a major income-generating venture for the university, with thousands of students admitted to pursue various courses.
However, it emerged that the recent austerity measures outlined by President Uhuru Kenyatta and the succession battle to occupy the vice chancellor’s seat have fanned the fight over the management of accounts.
The Standard has established that two factions have emerged at the university, with one side pushing for the retention of the status quo in the management of the funds and the other demanding the monies be managed under the institution’s main account.
The details came to the fore following communication from the council that the monies generated from the module II programmes will now be channelled to the institution’s main account.
In a memo written yesterday and signed by the university’s council chairperson Julia Ojiambo, the council in a meeting held on November 19, resolved to revoke the university’s Statute XXXV, which establishes Centre for Self-Sponsored Programmes (CESSP).
“The university’s statutory instruments vest the governance, control and administration of the university in the council. The instrument further provides that the university shall be governed with the provision of its charter and statutes made by its council,” the memo said.
Insiders said the statement of the council may mark the start of an end to the parallel programmes, coming days after another circular from the university directed all departments that “monies generated by that institution are government money”.
Acting Vice Chancellor Isaac Mbeche, in a recent circular dated November 15 and quoting austerity measures from the presidency, also said all expenditure and non-core activities must be rationalised.
“Consequently, all staff under the then CESSP be humanely redeployed into the mainstream services of the university and be assigned duties and responsibilities in line with their training,” Prof Mbeche said.
The memo also ordered the CESSP designated banking facilities shall, until further notice, continue to be operated by the council’s duly authorised signatories.
It also ordered all activities previously under CESSP be predesignated to other competent university organs.
“It is the council’s firm belief that this decision does not, in any way, hamper the operations of the university. The council, therefore, wishes to take this opportunity to reassure the university fraternity that the university functions and all her services will continue to be discharged seamlessly,” Prof Ojiambo said.
The council’s decision comes at a time Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has been calling for reforms at the universities.
Though painful, the decision by the UoN is the beginning of the much-needed reforms at Kenya’s higher institutions of learning.
But this will be a blow to universities management as it has, like the rest of other institutions, relied heavily on funding from self-sponsored students.
There have been concerns that university lecturers have abandoned government-sponsored students to concentrate on teaching those who are self-sponsored.
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