Shock as universities barred from increasing fees, cost of courses in new funding regime

Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) chief executive officer Mercy Wahome speaking in Naivasha on Friday, May 19, 2023. [Augustine Oduor]

Universities will not be allowed to change the costs of declared and published courses or increase tuition fees arbitrarily, it has emerged.

And any increase in tuition fees or costs of courses will be on the advice of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics to the government, based on inflation rates, among other factors.

And fees charged per course may not be arbitrarily reviewed under the new higher education funding regime.

Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) said the declared costs for the programmes will strictly apply for the next four years.

KUCCPS chief executive Mercy Wahome said the declared rates will apply to the students presently making applications for courses.

She, however, said universities may be free to review the costs of courses next year which will affect the new set of students.

“They will be able to review the costs next year when the new cohort of students will be making applications,” said Wahome.

Graduands during the 10th graduation ceremony at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology at Bondo main campus in Siaya County on March 3 2023. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

She also said that there will be no student applications for courses from the school level under the new funding regime announced by President Wiliam Ruto.

Over the years, Form Four students have always had a chance, just before KCSE exams, to select courses they wish to pursue in universities and colleges.

“This will not be the case any more because at that time the universities may not have published courses and the reviewed costs,” said Dr Wahome who was speaking during a media sensitisation meeting on the new funding formula, also attended by representatives from the Universities Fund and Higher Education Loans Board (HELB).

What has now come as a shocker to universities is the revelation that they will not have the chance to change the costs they already attached to each course.

Universities Fund chief executive Geoffrey Monari said that the Fund will sign an MoU with universities stating that stated costs will not be varied.

“But they may vary the costs based on advice by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and this may include among other factors, the inflation rate,” said Monari.

He added: “This was a directive by the President and the fees declared will not be changed. Review of the model will be done periodically to take care of inflation and other factors.”

It also emerged that universities may not just hike fees or change the costs of courses arbitrarily.

Universities Fund CEO Geoffrey Monari during a media sensitisation meeting in Nairobi on Friday, May 19, 2023. [Augustine Oduor]

“There will be many other factors that will be at play and justification for any review will be determined by many reasons,” said Monari.

This means that students making applications for universities and college admissions now will pay the stated fees for the next four years.

This surfaced as it emerged that after costs for universities and colleges courses were published, some institutions realised that they may have fixed higher rates that could push away students. Others also argue that they may have detailed lower costs compared to other institutions and may now wish to review them.

“We shall not change the costs because they are the rates being used by students to make choices and we have already opened the portal for them,” Dr Wahome said.

Analysis of declared fees shows that private universities and recently chartered public universities charged the cheapest rates for fees under the new funding formula.

The move could tilt the fortunes of the universities and boost the number of enrollments in the institutions.

In the new arrangement, each university has independently set its fees; depending on the value of the programmes they offer.

Dr Wahome, on Friday, noted that the valuation is done by the university and sent to the KUCCPS.

The analysis however shows a great disparity between the institutions on the fees to be paid for similar programmes.

So great is the disparity that some courses in smaller universities will cost only half what will be charged in some of the other institutions.

Medicine, Dental Surgery, Pharmacy and Engineering, which traditionally stand out as the most sort after-degree programmes by top KCSE performers, will also be the most expensive 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 of the new cost for university programmes shows Medicine students at Kenyatta, JKUAT, Maseno and Moi University will pay the highest fees of Sh612,000 for their first year.

Students seeking to pursue

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

However, the students will not pay all the fees by themselves; they will get financial aid from the government depending on their level of need.

The financial aid is based on their level of need and several factors will determine this; vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy.

Under the model, some 45,000 students who will be deemed as the neediest will not pay fees at all for their university education.

Students from needy families will receive government scholarships of up to a maximum of 53 per cent and loans of up to 40 per cent. Their Households will only pay for seven per cent.

This means a student who has been admitted to pursue Medicine at JKUAT or Kenyatta University will settle their fees in the following fashion; the student will get Sh324,360 in government scholarships, Sh244,800 in loans and the parent will pay Sh42,840 as direct fees.

A student from a needy household taking the same course at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology will pay their fees in the following way; Sh179,108 will be paid by government scholarship, the student will also get Sh135,176 from student loans and the parents will pay Sh23,655.

A student classified as less needy will also get funding in the form of a government scholarship, at 38 per cent of the tuition fees, and 55 per cent in the form of loans. Their households will pay only seven per cent.

This means that a student at JKUAT or Kenyatta University paying Sh612,000 as the tuition fees will get Sh232,560 as a government scholarship, Sh336,600 as loans and Sh42,840 as direct fees.

The main entrance of Kenyatta University. [File, Standard]

If they choose to pursue the course at Masinde Muliro, however, the student fees breakdown will be; Sh128,417 as a government scholarship, Sh185,867 as student loans and Sh23,655.

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

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

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

Tuition fees for a 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.

Proceed to private universities

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

Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine, which is offered in only two universities, will cost Sh442,850 at the UoN, and Sh312,340 at Egerton University.

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

The 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.