We are not increasing fees, parliament says

National Assembly Education Committee chairperson Florence Mutua [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Education stakeholders and the National Treasury have agreed to increase allocation to the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) to support more students instead of increasing the fees.

National Assembly Education Committee chairperson Florence Mutua said a meeting with Ministry of Education officials, the National Treasury and other education agencies in Mombasa on Friday discussed sustainable financing of higher education, policy on placement of government sponsored students in private universities and accreditation and supervision of academic programmes in universities.

“Any fees review should take into consideration the performance of the economy at that time, given the effects of the Covid-19 on the economy,” reads the resolution.

Contrary to report published earlier in the Saturday Standard, Mutua said the meeting “underscored the harsh economic times and noted that this may not allow for any fee increment at the moment. Everything we did was to avoid a situation where we increase the fees.”

The stakeholders also agreed that the ministry and the Treasury as well as individual universities establish resource mobilisation strategies, including developing policy to guide universities on borrowing.

The Ministry of Education and the University Funding Board (UFB) was also tasked to ensure equity in funding to both public and private universities, as Treasury progressively provides Sh1.6 billion occasioned by data discrepancies in 2018/19 to affected universities.

“We had extensive discussions on the implication of these measures with a view to giving our universities a new lifeline, enable them to provide quality education and lessen the burden for students,” Mutua said.

To further insulate the weak financial standing of universities, the committee and stakeholders agreed that a Cabinet Memo be prepared to give waivers to universities on statutory payments to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) as relates to Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

Other fundraising methods agreed included provision of conditional grants to support universities to clear outstanding debts such as pension, sacco deductions and future NHIF payments and outsourcing of non-core functions.