Universities will have to give status reports of those under their custody.

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Universities will now be compelled to give progress reports on all students allocated and funded by the government. The Cabinet approved proposals that will ensure all students placed by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) and sponsored by the government are tracked. The Universities (Amendment) Bill 2020 also makes far-reaching changes to the composition of the KUCCPS and Universities Fund (UF), and envisages smooth co-ordination between the two agencies on student funding.

The proposals bring new accountability measures on universities' funding and positions UF as the major player in students’ higher education financing. Notably, the new requirement will also push universities to give status reports on students under their custody, effectively tracing their academic progress and availability for funding.

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“Every university shall submit a report to the Board by April 30 each year on the status of the academic progress of the beneficiaries of the funds apportioned to the university by the Board,” reads the proposed law.

The development will be a win for the government and a blow to some universities that have over the years submitted contradicting student enrolment numbers. This comes as the UF revealed that there are 32,000 university students who have delayed in completing their courses.

Repeated courses

The UF report said some of these students have repeated courses, others may have manoeuvred their way around universities’ systems to overstay in the colleges, while others deferred courses for various reasons. The fund also exposed that it is unable to verify the data submitted by universities as there exists no proper mechanism to verify it. Higher education experts said if the law is passed, the fund may require universities to release students’ data showing those who passed exams and those who progress to the next class.

Universities may also be required to give final-year students official graduation lists to demonstrate that the students whose money they collected reported, studied and passed. The plan will, however, ride on another proposal fronted by vice chancellors that universities' funding focuses on a physical student as opposed to blanket financing where the government arbitrarily allocates money to institutions.

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In their Status of University Education in Kenya report released last year, vice chancellors argued that funding each student would increase accountability and eliminate numerous programmes offered.

Each participating university will be required to submit a list of self and government-sponsored students to the Placement Board within 30 days from the date of closure of the enrolments of students to the university. And “the Placement Board shall submit the information received to the Universities Fund Board within fourteen days of receipt thereof.”