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State now disowns fees increase in universities

EDUCATION
By Augustine Oduor | July 17th 2021

University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Prof Kiama Gitahi briefing journalists on the Institutional Reforms at the UON on July 9, 2021.[Jonah Onyango,Standard]

The push by universities to increase fees has hit a dead end after the government disowned any such plans.

University Education Principal Secretary Simon Nabukwesi said a meeting held between higher education stakeholders agreed that any fees increment be shelved until after 2022.

When asked about the increments already effected by some universities, Nabukwesi said: “This is a lie because no one has sanctioned such a move to increase fees across board. Whatever is happening at the University of Nairobi is internal.”

He said Vice Chancellors Committee chair Geoffrey Muluvi, Technical University of Kenya (TUK) VC Francis Aduol and his UoN counterpart Stephen Kiama attended the meeting convened by the Ministry of Education in Mombasa where the fees issue were discussed extensively.

The meeting was also attended by National Assembly Education Committee, Universities Funding Board and the National Treasury.

“It was unanimously agreed that any fees hike be suspended until further notice and we do not expect any further calls from institutions to hike fees even in private universities,” said Nabukwesi.

He said three VCs representing private universities also attended the meeting.

“The stakeholders’ engagement is not complete to warrant fees hike. Such a move would be done in full concurrence of all players, including parents.”

This is happening even as it emerged that more universities may take the cue from the University of Nairobi to review their fees.

The University of Nairobi more than doubled fees for postgraduate courses and parallel degree programmes.

Prof Muluvi yesterday said the universities have been in talks with the government agencies on the revision of Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) and noted that implementation of the various aspects of it depends on individual institutions.

“The DUC contains various components, including what the government, universities and parents will pay. But the implementation of the same was left to individual institutions,” he said.

Nabukwesi said DUC has nothing to do with fees increment. “Fees component was discussed separately and any increment was shelved,” he said.

He said any increment was agreed to be done through Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) for equity and equality.

Presently, all government-sponsored students are funded at a flat rate of Sh120,000 per year based on a formula developed in 1989.

Of this, Sh86,000 is tuition fees while Sh34,000 caters for students’ personal expenses, including accommodation, food and books.

The government pays Sh70,000 of the tuition money with students left to pay Sh16,000.

“As vice chancellors we are pitching that fees should be increased to Sh48,000, and this will go a long way in resolving many financial problems that universities presently face,” said Muluvi.

A survey conducted by Helb shows that under the present economic situation, a student requires approximately Sh200,000 annually to sustain university education.

Helb report however says a student needs Sh69,000 annually to cater for meals. Accommodation needs are rated at Sh14,000, transport Sh11,500, clothing Sh12,500 and grooming Sh11,500.

Students’ entertainment is estimated to be Sh12, 500.

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