By JAMES MWANGI
A row is brewing between the Technical University of Kenya and its former students over unpaid tuition fees.
The university, which is grappling with over half a billion shillings unpaid fees, has denied the alumni their academic certificates until they pay up.
But the former students are promising to pursue the matter, claiming the university – formerly Kenya Polytechnic – wants them to foot a bill on behalf of the “fraudulent few” in the management.
The Nairobian has learnt that despite the finance department having cleared the students and even refunding their caution money, the institution is demanding the clearance of ‘unidentified’ fees before giving them certificates. The most affected are students who completed university in 2011 and 2012.
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“They claim I have balance of Sh18,400 yet I cleared everything after finishing my course in early 2011. They even claim I am still a student there and have not paid the March 2013 fees,” Eric Kengere, a former student, told The Nairobian.
The university’s finance system shows he paid Sh77,750 and has a Sh18,400 balance to settle. But what raises more questions than answers is, if Eric is enrolled, the Technical University should demand Sh27,000 as balance.
Another case is where one student had a balance of Sh59,000 but after producing receipts, it was adjusted to Sh20,000.
He said most of his former colleagues are under a similar predicament.
A former student leader, who requested anonymity, blamed the matter on technical errors and irresponsibility saying the university has admitted it is trying to recover the swindled funds.
Academic Registrar Hesbon Nyagowa, however, told The Nairobian that the affected students are largely those who colluded with ‘corrupt’ university officials to swindle the institution.
Records show that from 1991 to 2006 the institution lost Sh532 million – the sum the Kenya Poly alumni owe the university. Last year, it had a deficit of Sh300 million lost from 2008 and now the continuing students owe the institution Sh192 million.
Between 2009 and 2012, the university collected only Sh800 million that Nyagowa says is insufficient.
Nyagowa said the scam took place when the college had a fraud-prone system meant for diploma and certificate courses that dated back to 1995 but since changes were instituted last year, the scheme has been exposed.
The union leader claimed ‘innocent’ students are bearing the brunt yet the real culprits are at large. He said the fees were ‘imposed’ randomly.
“The earlier system (Polymis) was inefficient to the extent passwords of workers who left the institution were still active,” said Nyagowa.
“The system would indicate a student having a fee balance of Sh100,000 but in the evening, somebody had manipulated it to read zero. We have discovered many forged receipts that were used by these students and crooked staff,” he added.
The balance payable ranges between Sh12,000 and Sh500,000. The highest unpaid balance by a single former student is Sh570,000 whereas another who did a certificate in 1976 was denied documents over Sh26,120.
That supposedly stopped him from getting vclearance to vie for a parliamentary post in the last General Election.
However, The Nairobian established that the introduction of degree programmes in 2008 and adoption of a new system has seen some students overcharged and others undercharged.
“Diploma and certificate system was programmed to charge thrice in a year but for degrees it (the system) charges twice. This way some degree students were overcharged and now we are refunding them the extra money,” Nyagowa said.
Those undercharged are supposed to clear the balance. Also, the changes made on statutory fees shot by about Sh5,000 and this is reflecting on balances.