Why universities are charging different fees for similar courses

Mount Kenya University Business and Economic graduates from Rwanda celebrate after been awarded  their degrees. [File, Standard]

Public universities will for the first time decide the amount they charge for their degree programs under the new funding formula that takes effect in September.

The move is part of the government’s plan to ensure the institutions run effectively.

Kenya University and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) chief executive, Dr Mercy Wahome, explains that the cost of training varies across institutions.

And this, she said, depends on variables such as the cost of living in different towns, number of students, and the number of academic staff required.

“So, you find that the programme that can take many students tends to be cheaper, because the cost of the course is spread out among the students,” Dr Wahome said.

Previously, the University Fund board determined the cost of training under the old funding model technically referred to as Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC).

However, Dr Wahome argues the DUC is not sustainable as some programmes in public universities fail to attract enough students but have an overload of staff.

In such cases, she questions the rationale of paying staff yet there are not enough students.

Dr Wahome explains that the move might force universities to reassess their programmes vis-à-vis the number of students they attract.

This hints on possible closure of some courses in the institutions.

“For public universities they now have to reassess if it is cost effective to run a programme where you do not attract students but you still pay faculties,” Dr Wahome noted.

She spoke in Naivasha during a sensitisation forum on the new funding formula.

Giving an example of Kisii university, Dr Wahome reveals that some universities had attracted a huge number of students on account of lower fees.

Reaffirming the need for independence of the institutions to determine the fees, University Fund chief executive Geoffrey Monari said it will empower universities to be autonomous.

This, Monari explained, autonomy will help universities plan better to ensure they can support their operations.

“Each university now will have the autonomy to decide how much they charging and what are their overheads. Planning for Vice Chancellors now becomes very important because they now have to plan properly not to have extra staff,” Monari said.

Most expensive and cheapest courses

Medicine, Dental surgery, Pharmacy and Engineering, which traditionally stand out as the most sought-after degree programmes by top KCSE performers, will also be the most expensive degree courses under the new university funding model.

Students joining university this September to pursue Medicine, and Dental surgery will pay as high as Sh600,000— depending on their university of choice— as their first-year fees;

An analysis on the new cost for university programmes released by the KUCCPS shows Medicine students at Kenyatta, JKUAT, Maseno and Moi university will pay the highest fees of Sh612,000 for their first year.

However, cheaper options for a student seeking to pursue Medicine will be joining Egerton and Masinde Muliro University where they will be required to pay Sh337,940 and Sh306,000 for the same course. This is half the cost in Kenyatta, JKUAT, Maseno and Moi university.

The first-year fees for a degree in Dental surgery—which is only offered in two institutions— will also be Sh612,000 in Moi University and Sh512,050 at the University of Nairobi.

Architecture, which is also a favorite among top KCSE performers will cost Sh367,200 for students admitted to JKUAT.

It is offered in four other universities; at University of Nairobi the first-year students will pay Sh347,650, Kenyatta University Sh306,000, Technical University of Kenya Sh288,000, and the cheapest institution for the programme will be Technical University of Mombasa Sh275,400.

Tuition fees for Bachelor of Pharmacy, offered in eight private and public universities, is set at 492,660 at JKUAT while Maseno and Kenyatta University will charge Sh428,400;

The cheapest institutions offering the Pharmacy programme is Mount Kenya University which will charge Sh375,000 for the same course; However, it is worth noting that under the new funding model students who proceed to private universities will not get a shot at government scholarships.

Bachelor of veterinary medicine, which is offered in only two universities, will cost Sh442,850 at UoN, and Sh312,340 at Egerton university.

Engineering programmes will also be among the most priced courses: University of Nairobi for example will charge the highest fees Sh374,850 for its Civil, Electrical and Electronic Engineering programmes.

Technical University of Kenya and the Technical University of Mombasa will charge the least fees for the Civil Engineering programmes, at 300,000 and 302,940 respectively.

JKUAT will charge Sh238,208, the highest fees among public universities, for students who will be admitted to pursue Law; another popular degree programme among top KCSE performers.

The same programme will cost a student proceeding to Kisii University Sh225,335. A University of Nairobi student will pay Sh221,850, while Moi, Maseno, Kenyatta and University of Embu will cost the least among public institutions valued at Sh183,600.

First years joining Bachelor of Commerce, a top pick among those qualifying for university places, will pay between Sh130,000 and Sh227,500 as their tuition fees.

For those joining Computer Science will pay between Sh140,000 and Sh345,100 charged as the highest fees by University of Nairobi.

Garissa University will charge the highest fees for Actuarial Science set at Sh290,700 while Mount Kenya University charges the least at Sh110,000.

For Nursing, students will pay between Sh188,000 and Sh367,000 as their first-year fees.