Moi University has hinted it will close or scale down more satellite campuses to reduce costs and improve education standards.
Vice-chancellor Prof Isaac Kosgei said the planned reforms include harmonising programmes as it seeks to become financially sustainable.
“We have set in motion a number of reforms to put the university back to a good, healthy financial position. We will continue to review our academic programmes to align to the government’s Big Four agenda and Vision 2030,” he said during its 41st virtual graduation ceremony on Friday.
Some 2,997 students, including 17 foreigners, received their degree certificates.
In July, the university, based in Kesses, Uasin Gishu County, handed over the Odera Akang’o campus in Yala, Siaya County, to Maseno University.
In 2016, it closed its Kericho and Nakuru campuses in response to a government directive on education standards in tertiary institutions.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of changes announced by the University of Nairobi following recommendations from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
With a combined workforce of over 12,000 academic and non-teaching staff, the UoN, Moi and Kenyatta universities gobble up billions of shillings in wages.
UoN has the largest wage bill, spending about Sh8.7 billion on personal emoluments, followed by Kenyatta (Sh5.6 billion) and Moi (Sh4.69 billion), according to recent audit reports.
Their expenditure on staff salaries and associated expenses is skewed against their income, and any reforms to balance the two will most likely lead to job losses.
UoN has announced it would abolish all colleges and reorganise all functions around faculties, now reduced to 11 to avoid duplication and functional overreach.
“For some State-owned enterprises, the Covid-19 shock exacerbated existing underlying financial weaknesses. For example, public universities have recorded persistent losses over the long term,” the IMF document guiding the restructuring says.
At Moi, university council chairman Dr Humphrey Njuguna said that the institution was embarking on a number of initiatives to diversify into income-generating activities that include apple farming.
“We have planted 50 acres. In November we intend to plant another 50 acres. Our target is to plant at least 1,000 acres. Kenya imports 95 per cent of apples and we want to satisfy the local and international markets,” added Dr Njuguna, noting that the university seeks to earn at least Sh40 billion from the crop in the next four years.
Dr Njuguna said the university’s finances were hurt by the effects of Covid-19 and reduced per-student grants to public universities from the exchequer.
He noted that since 2015, Moi had missed out on Sh12 billion in financial allocations from the Treasury, further straining its operations.
“As the university council, we are also spearheading the setting up of a resource mobilisation centre to mobilise funds for this institution of higher learning. I want to challenge alumni to join their alumni association and make contributions towards supporting this university,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Njuguna, who presided over the ceremony as acting chancellor, challenged graduates to uphold integrity and avoid malpractices in workplaces.
“I want to advise you: be strong because out there, merit comes secondary. Other considerations like regional or ethnic balance are what breeds corruption and malpractices and comprise the government’s operations but please don’t engage in that,” he said.
“Merit does not know a tribe or other considerations because we are all Kenyans and merit is what will help us to develop our country.”
University Education and Research Principal Secretary Simon Nabukwesi, in a speech read on his behalf by the Ministry of Education David Watene, challenged universities to tailor their programme to job market requirements and address national challenges.