Private Universities tell state to plan, budget for students before placement

This they argued, would ease the transition, give all learners an equal chance and forestall crisis in the sector.

On university placement and funding, the National Association of Private Universities in Kenya (NAPUK) argues that the present process of placing students to the universities and colleges system has led to a funding crisis.

They now argue that the Universities Fund, having determined the available money to support government-sponsored learners, should advise the placement agency on the number of students to select and place.

NAPUK argues that presently, the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) selects and places students to universities and colleges before available money is determined.

"This has contributed to the present crisis where institutions are struggling to stay afloat because the government is unable to release adequate funds," said Dr Vincent Gaitho, NAPUK Secretary General.

Section 56 (1) (a) says that KUCCPS shall coordinate the placement of government-sponsored students to universities and colleges.

The Act also says under section 54 (4) (c), says that the Universities Fund shall apportion funds to public universities and issuance of conditional grants to private universities in accordance with the criteria established.

Private universities now argue that placement of students must not take place before Universities Funding Board determines available money, and releases funding criteria.

In the presentation, private universities propose that placement of students to universities should be advised by funds available and the differentiated unit cost (DUC) as determined by the Universities Funding Board before placement is done.

"A deliberate evaluation of how the placement of students by KUCCPS was conceptualised be conducted," said Dr Gaitho.

They also want criteria developed to identify deserving students who would be sponsored by the government.

'The government sponsorship for university education be formulated on the basis of deserving cases, affirmative action and in support of governments national development goals," said Gaitho.

The institutions argue that the bottom-up approach of the Kenya Kwanza government must be well enshrined in the funding of university education without undermining the chances of the poor bright students.

"The best business practices and entrepreneurial skills be included in university education funding where budget available is determinant of fund sharing and students placement.

Private universities argued that presently, there is no framework of determining deserving students for university education funding.

"There is glaring discrimination in the implementation of the DUC by Universities Funding Board where government-sponsored students in private universities receive less than half of those in public universities get," said Gaitho.

NAPUK also wants a review of the governance structures of universities to determine how they impact in the appropriation of financial resources.

"Universities must explore varied funding sources. Prudent management of all university funds be observed and activities and projects initiated must be tied to the goal and purpose of the university," said Gaitho.

NAPUK has also asked Prof Raphael Munavu-led team to consider the introduction and operationalization of the National Open University of Kenya in the wake of technological advancement and automation.

"The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic triggered an unprecedented way of doing business and living making the dichotomy, time and space insignificant. Universities world-wide and in Kenya in particular rolled out the use of technology where online teaching-learning-examination and graduation were seamlessly conducted," he said.

NAPUK proposes an urgent need for the government through the ICT ministry to uncover the hindrances that negate access to stable and affordable access to online connectivity.

"The line ministry for digitization ought to support and implement nationwide internet connectivity. The counties should equally roll out internet connectivity with free Wi-Fi hotspots in appropriate sites and open public parks to assist students pursuing online academic programs countrywide," Dr Gaitho told the task force.

The consortium also proposed that the Kenya Education Network Trust (KENET) be enhanced and supported as the provider of all university's real-time internet needs.

NAPUK has also weighed in on the placement of junior secondary, proposing that the level of learning be domiciled in primary schools once it is rolled out in January 2023.

Dr Gaitho said it is doubtful the available facilities will accommodate learners given the 100 per cent transition of class eight pupils to form one.

"There is unprecedented regional inequality in the provision of infrastructure at the Basic Educational level making it untenable to have a seamless transition if present-day schools are the entry points,"

Dr Gaitho said the majority of secondary schools do not have enough space to accommodate pupils transiting from primary schools since the government policy of 100 per cent transition that began four years ago.

"There is a likely risk of social disorder and mental challenges coupled with psychological disturbance among continuing class seven pupils left behind in primary school while their junior (CBC Grade six) proceeding to junior secondary appearing to jump the queue of education continuum," Dr Gaitho said.

NAPUK proposes that it could be prudent and reasonable to domicile junior secondary in primary schools and also allow private schools that have been inspected and accredited to host junior secondary classes in their premises.

"The existing class eight pupils who are set to transit to secondary schools will be leaving behind infrastructure that can adequately accommodate pupils transiting to junior secondary within the primary school premises," Dr.Gaitho said in his presentation.

The private universities are also of the opinion that hosting junior secondary in secondary schools will leave idle facilities in primary schools which if projected to the national scale would translate to massive waste at a time, they are facing unprecedented strain to accommodate continuing 8-4-4 students.

"There is need for a mindset change that geographical mobility is not the perfect measure of transition from one schooling level to another. Like in virtual platform of teaching and learning time and space are inconsequential," NAPUK

Given the fact that there are primary school teachers who have attained degree qualifications, NAPUK said they can adequately support junior secondary in their current primary school stations.

"University graduate teachers in primary schools ought to be engaged in supporting junior secondary