Broke varsities meet MPs to resolve Sh2.2b pay dispute


The row over the Sh2.2 billion universities staff salary increment returns to Parliament next week when vice chancellors will meet MPs over the funding crisis.

The Saturday Standard has established that several months after the 2017-21 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was signed between unions and universities in October 2019, staff are yet to get enhanced pay.

The initial Sh6.6 billion released to the universities only settled arrears, with most vice chancellors unable to adjust their workers’ salaries to new scales.

Some of the universities that complied with the June 3 court order and adjusted staff pay to upward notches ran out of money and reverted to the old scales.

The VCs now say they need the balance to end trouble with the staff workers.

The Sh8.8 billion pay deal was to benefit 30,000 members of the University Academic Staff Union (Uasu), the Kenya University Staff Union (Kusu) and the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (Kudheiha).

The National Assembly Education Committee chaired by Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua has invited VCs and council chairs to a meeting next week to discuss the funding crisis.

Uasu officials yesterday maintained the money was released to universities in July but VCs who spoke to the Saturday Standard pointed fingers at the ministry, saying they were short changed during the release of the annual capitation.

“They (ministry) deducted monies from the annual capitation to universities to cover the Sh2.2 billion balance that was needed and sent universities the remaining money as capitation,” said a VC familiar with the details.

The push and pull between the key players now mean university staff will continue waiting to get their basic salaries increased as the payment stalemate continues.

Under the new salary scales, professors who earn a minimum salary of Sh170,681 per month would have their pay increased to Sh180,434 in the first year of implementation and Sh190,187 in the second year.

Their salaries would further go up to Sh199,940 and Sh209,693 for the third and fourth years, respectively.

Salaries of associate professors would be revised upwards by Sh11,766 for the lower band and Sh8,724 for upper limits.

This means that the associate professors who presently earn a minimum pay of Sh112,038 would take home Sh144,450 in the fourth year. The figures are similar for senior lecturers. Lecturers would get a pay rise of between Sh2,795 and Sh4,919.

Assistant lecturers/tutorial fellows will have their pay go up by between Sh3,561 and Sh5,392. Graduate assistants’ pay would also be increased annually by between Sh2,687 and Sh3,893.

MPs will next week seek to unlock the impasse that has now threatened to paralyse learning in the universities.

University Education PS Simon Nabukwesi, Commission for University Education (CUE) and Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) will also attend the meeting.

Nabukwesi has released a long list of challenges facing university education and outlined mitigating measures to plug funding and quality gaps.

In his presentation to education stakeholders, he cited funding as one of the major hiccups in institutions of higher learning.

Pending bills

He said low funding had led to deficits in university budgets, leading to many unsettled pending bills.

The PS also said 80 per cent of recurrent expenditure budget for most universities is used to pay salaries while the remaining is used to meet administrative expenses and students’ facilitation.

He said other challenges such as staffing in professional courses, including medicine and engineering, stand.

“This challenge is more pronounced in the newly established universities and university colleges,” said Nabukwesi.

The PS spoke during a State of University Education conference organised by the CUE.