University fees funding fraud: Shock for parents, new students as varsities demand tuition

New students report to Kenyatta University on September 06,2023. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Parents and students are in shock as public universities have defied a directive by Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu and are demanding fees from first year students before admission.

A spot check by The Standard reveals that at least five top public universities are asking parents to pay fees of up to seven per cent of the cost of the program.

By Thursday evening, Vice Chancellors from Kisii University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Maseno university, Kenyatta University and Moi University were asking new students to pay tuition fees of up to seven per cent of programme costs before getting admission.

Students and parents who spoke to The Standard said failure to pay the amount demanded by the universities denied one admission.

Kisii University, for example, blocked students from accessing some forms vital for admission until they had paid the amount demanded by the institution.

A parent, whose daughter was admitted on Wednesday, said that he had to pay Sh10,000 before they could download the B5 form, which was a requirement for admission.

At JKUAT, a student admitted on Monday said that the parent had to pay the seven per cent fees before admission.

In Maseno University, The Standard established that students are set to report beginning September 24 but among requirements, they will need to clear the equivalent of seven per cent of the tuition fees before admission.

 Machogu had directed that no university student shall be denied admission because of fees.

In a circular dated August 24 to all vice chancellors of public universities and principals of constituent colleges, Machogu ordered them to admit all learners.

“Universities and colleges shall admit all students from the 2022 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) cohort as placed by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) pending the processing of their applications for funding,” Machogu said.

Machogu also directed vice chancellors of public universities to allow one month’s reprieve for the government to processes payments for each student.

Under the new funding formula, the government classified learners in four categories of vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy.

Unveiling the model, president William Ruto said the new formula will guide how students will be awarded scholarships, given loans and also the amount of fees they will pay.

Those who will fall under vulnerable and extremely needy will be exempted from paying any fees as the government will take care of 100 percent of their fees through scholarships and loans.

Those who fall under needy and less needy categories will get 93 percent of government funding in form of scholarships and loans but will be required to pay seven percent fees.

Higher Education Loans Board (HELB)and the Universities Fund (UF) are tasked with the processing of students’ data and categorization.

However, even before the government completes processing of the student’s application leading to categorization of students, universities are already asking for fees.

And Machogu is not happy: “Any vice-chancellor who is asking for fees is bracing for disciplinary action. What basis are they using to ask for fees from students and parents?” said Machogu.

He added: “This is because we have just started processing students’ applications and we are yet to categories them so as to know who gets what and what not.”

On Wednesday, Machogu extended scholarships and loans applications to October 7.

Machogu said the extension aims to provide eligible students with ample time to apply and ensure no one is left out due to the high demand for government funding in higher education.

It emerged that nearly 40 per cent of students were yet to submit requests.

Last week, Machogu told MPs that once all students will have submitted their applications, verification of their documents will take seven days.

He said allocation of scholarships and loans  will take one day after which disbursements will be done.

This sudden imposition of fees has raised eyebrows and sparked outrage among students and parents.

Last month, Vice Chancellors Committee chairperson Prof Daniel Mugendi said said students will be allowed to resume classes until Helb and UF communicates to them about the status of each learner.

“We also agreed that students will report when they come, they will be allowed to attend classes as we normalise their details once Helb communicates to universities,” he said.

Machogu yesterday termed as “illegal” the move by VCs to ask for fees, questioning the criteria used by the universities to charge students fees.

“We have assured the universities that once processing of student’s data is complete, we shall release the money to them. For now we are still collecting data through students applications and it is wrong to ask for fees,” said Machogu.