Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) has launched a fund in a bid to reduce the number of needy students dropping out of university due to lack of fees.
Speaking in Nairobi during the launch of the Chancellor's Endowment Fund, MMUST Chancellor Peter Muthoka said the institution must recognise the importance of ensuring all members of organisations and communities have access to the resources they require to carry out their functions effectively.
"Organisations are only as strong as their resource base. It is on this premise that I thought of initiating the creation of an endowment fund that will not only equalise students' rights to higher education but also enhance enrolment at the university level," Dr Muthoka said.
The Fund is expected to enhance students' completion rate, improve their living standards and ensure inclusion of the marginalised, vulnerable and orphaned students.
Muthoka said the Fund will help MMUST diversify its income and reduce the institution's vulnerability to emerging economic crises.
"Further, the fund will enhance the stability and prestige of MMUST. Endowment contributions designated for specific purposes can provide a measure of independence from economic, governmental, and political forces," he added.
He urged staff, alumni, industry players and numerous well-wishers to help grow the fund.
"The cash that we have used to set off this fund is mere 'seed money' and will require continuous fundraising in order to grow into a gigantic fund that will accommodate the diverse nature of students' needs," Muthoka said.
"My desire is for the Chancellor's Endowment Fund to be a replica of the Harvard University endowment which is the largest academic endowment fund in the world, with a total market value of over $40.9 billion (Sh5 trillion)."
Muthoka told The Standard that the fund will help market MMUST, especially through the numerous fundraising events and activities that it will attract. On his part, MMUST Vice Chancellor Solomon Shibairo said the Fund will expand the university's financial base, "especially in this era of diminishing government funding".
"I want to assure everyone that we shall come up with a viable criterion for selecting deserving students," Prof Shibairo said.
"This will be done in close liaison with the office of the Dean of Students, the Deans of schools and the Students Governing Council to ensure that the funds are targeted towards the neediest cases."
He pledged to ensure the prudent utilisation of the Fund so that the right students get funding, adding that only the largest endowments and foundations have the resources to build an internal team to manage their assets.
And MMUST Council Chairperson Jane Musangi said the Fund will help students from poor families complete their studies in time.
"MMUST has seen tremendous growth in the number of students and staff over the years. This increase in population brings about different calibre of students, most of whom originate from financially disadvantaged backgrounds," Dr Musangi said.
She said the institution has a responsibility to put structures in place to help such students.
"The Endowment Fund is one of the structures needed for this to be possible. I assure you of our full support as a council, in ensuring that this Fund grows and serves its intended purpose," Musangi added.
She said MMUST has the requisite structures and policies that will guide the disbursement of funds to those students who need it most.
Through this Fund, Musangi said, cases of students missing exams due to unpaid fees will reduce. "Many needy but bright students have been dropping out of university due to inability to pay the required fees. This has denied them and the entire nation a potential workforce that would transform our nation's economy," she added.