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Private varsities claim Sh31b from State


Students graduate from Tom Mboya University in Homa Bay. [James Omoro, Standard]

The future of over 68,000 state-sponsored students hangs in the balance as government funding in private universities dipped.

Kenya Association of Private Universities (KAPU) has written to Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu over a Sh31 billion gap that they claim is yet to be released to them.

In the letter, KAPU said the government has allocated a mere 10 per cent of the required tuition fees for the 2024/2025 financial year.

This, they said has affected education provision for the students enrolled in private institutions.

The private universities said that the money represents accumulated half-payments from previous years.

"This is very low since many programmes are very costly and Private universities are struggling to educate Government sponsored students," said KAPU Treasurer, Prof Washington Okeyo.

In the letter, Prof Okeyo said private universities have been allocated only Sh1,774,791,604 for the financing of government-sponsored students for the financial year 2024/2025.

According to KAPU, the amount represents only 10.12 per cent of the student's tuition fees.

Initially, the government was supposed to pay up to, 80 per cent of the students' fees under a now-defunct funding model known as Differentiated Unit Cost.

"This is at the rate of DUC of 10.1 per cent; This is very low since many programs are very costly and Private universities are struggling to educate government-sponsored students."

This dramatic reduction comes after private universities were excluded from enrolling any new state-sponsored students last year. 

Now, KAPU says that even those already enrolled face an uncertain future, burdened with the prospect of shouldering the majority of their education costs.

This financial burden, coupled with the slashed funding, threatens to push these institutions to the brink of collapse, jeopardizing the education of thousands of State-sponsored students in private universities.

The KAPU letter, dated February 21, seeks intervention of Machogu to increase the allocation to at least 30 per cent of the student fees.

"We shall appreciate your intervention on this matter for the sake of the Kenyan students studying in Private universities," the letter to the CS reads.

However, the government's response remains shrouded in uncertainty, leaving students and universities in a state of anxious limbo.

With no clear solution in sight, the program now teeters on uncertainty, leaving students, universities, and the future of Kenyan education in a precarious state.

The Education Ministry began the placement of students in private universities in 2016 after a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In the six years, the government sent about 88,000 state-sponsored students to private universities, a document presented in Parliament shows.

 In 2016, the institutions admitted 10,984 students, (17,363) in 2017, (12,656) in 2018, (17,511) in 2019, and (27,756) in 2020, and [12,000] in 2021.

The Standard has established that the number of State-sponsored students in private universities has since declined to 68,966 students.

With the change in the funding model last year, students in private institutions are now not eligible for government scholarships but can get a student loan to support their studies.

Following the change in the funding model, the institutions registered a decline in enrollment with some 9,000 students choosing to join the private universities last year.

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