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Mr. President, settle tuition fee quagmire in the approved public-private varsity sponsorship deal

By DrNjenga Solomon | August 19th 2016

The new deal between government of Kenya and private varsities that will see private varsities admitting government sponsored students is set to flop badly if, tuition fee arithmetic is not adequately settled.  Where else the government charges 70,000 ksh for each student in public universities per year, this money is a drop in the ocean to even sustain a student for one trimester in any private university in Kenya!

About 10,000 candidates who sat their Form Four examination in 2015 will receive government sponsorship in private universities thanks to Universities Act 2012. In a meeting with all private and public universities at statehouse, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday 17th March 2016 confirmed that it’s now official that 10,000 students will be enrolled into Kenya private varsities in the near future.

The adoption of the recommendations by the President is a major victory for private universities which have been seeking a share of government sponsored students since 2013 following the enactment of Universities Act 2012 which allowed the admission of students to private universities. In the agreement, the government will also be required to fund universities as per the current funding model at Sh70, 000 per student paid by the taxpayers and Sh16, 000 paid by the student and this lies the problem!

The money paid by the government per student per year is way far below the actual tuition fee charged by private varsities. The agreement approved by Uhuru Kenyatta must therefore go beyond this challenge because, if not addressed, those government sponsored students pursuing their studies in private varsities will therefore be required to fork the huge balance of their tuition so as to meet the normal tuition required by respective private varsities of their choice!

Indeed, this might turn to be the only biggest challenge towards this noble idea! It’s also imperative to note that many private universities are on rental or leased premises as opposed to public varsities where everything is from the exchequer hence justifying their high tuition where the cost of the same is passed down to students. One wonders how the agreement addresses this financial challenge! How about lecturers? Should the government also think of sending public lecturers into the private varsities or co-opting private university lecturers into the exchequer too? If the agreement ignores this truth, the deal herewith will flop badly.


Dr. Njenga Solomon Ph.D

Dean – School of Governance, Peace and Security

Africa Nazarene University

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