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We only receive students’ fees from government, private varsities say

EDUCATION
By Augustine Oduor | October 29th 2021
KAPU executive board member Robert Gateru. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Private universities want the law changed to correct what they termed an impression that the government funds them.

Kenya Association of Private Universities (KAPU) officials said they want the law to indicate that the money the state sends to government-sponsored students in private universities is school fees, not development money.

The officials, who were making a presentation before the National Assembly Education Committee in Mombasa, said tuition fees are not grants and proposed that the law be amended to clearly state that the government funds students, not the universities.

In their proposals to the Universities (Amendment) Bill 2020, private universities want the law to clearly distinguish funds.

KAPU wants a new section to be introduced in the law to explain money sent to the institutions and other funds they may seek from State.

It also wants the new Section 54 (9)(C) to be amended to clearly state Universities Fund shall also apportion funds allocated by the national government for tuition fees for government-sponsored students in Kenyan universities. This the KAPU said, will explain that no private university gets development funds from the government.

Fees paid for government-sponsored students shall be guided by the differentiated unit cost model.

KAPU executive board member Robert Gateru said the changes they are proposing will correct the impression currently created by the law that the government funds private universities.

The amended law should also read that the government shall, through Universities Fund, apportion conditional grants and loans to private universities, according to Prof Gateru, who is also the vice-chancellor of Riara University.

KAPU also wants the law amended to state the Universities Fund shall apportion money allocated by the national government to public universities for development and recurrent expenditure.

“There has been apparent confusion that projected tuition fees paid for government-sponsored students in private universities as grants given to those universities, which is not the case,” said Prof Gateru.

VCs of public universities have openly opposed the placement of government-sponsored students into private universities so that the money paid to the private institutions can be used to plug their deficits.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the government will continue to place students into private universities, saying the exercise is anchored in law.

Section 56 (1) (a) of the Universities Act says Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) shall ‘co-ordinate the placement of the government-sponsored students to universities and colleges.’

President Uhuru Kenyatta also reinforced the placement of students to private universities in 2016 when he directed that KUCCPS continues to implement the section of the law.

So far, some 86,270 students have since been placed by KUCCPS into private universities and at least Sh9 billion remitted to the institutions over five years.

Overall, the meeting attended by Magoha heard that students should be allowed to choose universities where they wish to study.

Private universities request the committee to protect and safeguard the freedom of Kenyan students to choose the programmes and institutions in line with the Constitution and other statutory provisions,” said Prof Gateru.

Magoha said students are free to pick their preferred universities during courses applications and revisions.

“They (students) log in and make their own choices on which universities they want to be admitted,” said Magoha.

He said the main driving force behind the placement of government-sponsored students in private universities is to promote equity and access to quality education as enshrined in the Act, the Constitution, and other provisions.

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