State agencies that fund students in universities and colleges have painted a picture of how the merged funding body proposed by President William Ruto should look like.
Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) and the Universities Fund (UF) in two separate reports have recommended new governance structures for the merged funding body and also proposed their staff are retained under the new outfit. They have also proposed legislative changes that should be effected and suggested a number of names that can be adopted for the new merged body.
The details are contained in reports by HELB and UF presented to Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms. Charles Ringera and Geoffrey Monari are the present chief executives of HELB and UF respectively.
In their reports to education task force, the agencies say even though their present organisations have different structures and terms of engagement for staff members, they should not be disadvantaged with the transition.
The report shows that the Universities Fund has a staff complement of 28 while the Higher Education Loans Board has 257.
“All members of staff should be absorbed into the new organization on equal and fair terms. Staff should not be disadvantaged by the transition,” the report by Universities Fund reads.
Reports further propose that terms of engagement are harmonised across board to ensure that people are remunerated in a fair manner.
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“Any person who was an employee or staff in the UF and HELB should continue to hold or work in that office on harmonised employment terms and conditions,” reads the report.
The reports say that this move will enable the Commission maintain institutional memory on processes and procedures pertaining to financing of the higher education sector.
In addition to these, the two agencies have also proposed new titles that they said would fit the merged funding agency and reflect its overall mandate.
The Kenya Kwanza Government through its campaign manifesto promised Kenyans to amalgamate HELB, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Fund, and University Fund with a view of harmonizing and merging all tertiary education funding entities into one National Skills & Funding Council (NSFC).
But in its submission, HELB says that the proposed name be reconsidered and advises having the words ‘Skills’ and ‘funding’ together may not bring out a fair view of what the institution is meant to do.
“There are government agencies that are mandated to deal with skills like the Commission for University Education while funding is done by HELB, University Fund and TVET Fund,” reads HELP report.
“It is therefore proposed that the word ‘skills’ be dropped from the amalgamated funding agency. Further, it is proposed that the word ‘funding’ be replaced with ‘financing’ while ‘Council’ be replaced with ‘Commission’.” HELB report reads.
In total, the two agencies have proposed nine titles that they suggest would aptly fit and describe the merged fund.
They propose that the new amalgamated funding body can either be named Higher Education Funding Commission, National Commission for Student Financing (NCSF), Higher Education Student Financing Commission, Higher Education Students EduBank or Higher Education EduBank.
Other proposed names are Higher Education Students Congress, Higher Education Revolving Fund, Tertiary Education Fund and Higher Education Fund.
The two bodies are also in agreement on the new governance structure for the new outfit and recommend that grants and loans must have distinct directorates.
“We recommend the enactment of an enabling legislative framework for the Commission to have the following proposed governance Structure. Commission, Commissioner General and Directorates,” reads HELB report.
Under directorates even though the wording is different, the two agencies propose distinct directorates for grants and loans.
HELB proposes creation of Tertiary Education Loans Directorate and Tertiary Education Grants Management.
While Universities Fund proposes creation of Tertiary Education Grants Management Directorate and Tertiary Education Student Aid & Loans Directorate.
“The Chief Executive Officers of the UF and HELB assume the positions of the Heads of the two directorates,” reads UF report.
UF reports further says that these proposals are key to continuation of key functions of the Commission by maintaining minimum disruption of operations.
“It will also enable the Commission maintain institutional memory on processes and procedures pertaining to financing of the higher education sector,” reads UF report.
Report suggests that each directorate of the Commission shall have such autonomy as to enable it discharge its professional mandate and shall for purposes of efficiently and effectively finance the higher education sector.
The UF further explains in its proposal that there shall be a Director General who shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission to be recruited by the Commission through a competitive process.
The Commission shall however organise its secretariat into such directorates, with the approval of the Cabinet Secretary, taking into account the functions of the Commission under the new Act and any other Act of Parliament.
“Each directorate of the Commission shall have such autonomy as to enable it to discharge its professional mandate and shall for purposes of effectively and efficiently funding higher education,” reads the report.
Also under the new structures, it is proposed that the secretariat of former institutions become directorates of the Commission.
“The respective secretariats or management units of the respective former institutions shall on the appointed date become directorates of the Commission as the Commission may deem necessary for the effective performance of its functions,” reads report.
These finer details are contained in a proposal made by Universities Fund on the suggested Higher Education Funding Act.
The report suggests that the new body comprises a chairman appointed by the President. Members to the board shall include the Secretary to the KUCCPS, the Chief Executive of the TVET Authority and PSs in charge of Higher Education and Research and Ministry of Finance or their representatives.
Also to be included are representatives for public and private universities, chairman of the Kenya Association of Technical Institutions, Executive Director of the Federation of Kenya Employers.
Also proposed to sit on the board are two persons who have proven knowledge and experience in Financial and legal and the Director General of the Commission who shall be an ex-officio member.