State-sponsored university students could in the not-too-distant future pay Sh48,000 in tuition fees, three times the current Sh16,000 a year.
That’s one proposal to raise funds for cash-strapped varsities.
Vice-chancellors have proposed an increase in tuition fees and the government has endorsed the idea, though the exact amount is not known. No decision has been made.
University Education PS Simon Nabukwesi this week signaled possible upward review of direct fees paid by government-sponsored students.
Nabukwesi stirred up controversy in a new round of consultations on university reforms. He called for urgent financing alternatives to address funding gaps.
Top the list of proposals is a review – upwards – of tuition fees paid by government-sponsored students. The suggestion was first made by university vice-chancellors.
The university bosses want the new cohort of students to pay Sh48,000 in tuition fees – three times the current Sh16,000.
The increase is meant to plug revenue holes created by the de facto abolition of the privately sponsored students programme in 2015, and cover mounting training costs.
However, Nabukwesi was vague about how much more the government wants students to pay.
He proposed universities position themselves for commercialization of innovations in varsities and public research institutions.
Lack of funding has remained a problem for universities. The government has pushed for tough reforms but university bosses have pushed back
Conversations about university reforms recently have centered on the reduction of operational costs.
From 2016, the number of students qualifying to join universities plummeted from 169,492 in 2015 to 88,929 in 2016, 70,073 in 2017 and rose to 90,950 in 2018.
The decline in enrollment means reduced fees and income.
Nabukwesi said institutions will need to take bold decisions that will include reducing the number of top managers – DVCs, registrars and others.
The PS also proposed institutions outsource non-core services and rationalise staff (academic and non-academic) to ensure they are sustainable.
Nabukwesi also called for a review of models used to finance universities, which is in line with earlier proposals by the VCs.
The VCs want the government to fully implement the new Differentiated Unit Cost system which the government would fund students based on their courses.
Under the formula, science-oriented courses get relatively higher funding compared to the arts and business courses.
Also proposed for review are the salaries and allowances of senior administrative staff and the framework for placement of students in public and private universities.