Tension is building as students protest the recent decision by the treasury, vice-chancellors and Members of Parliament to triple university fees citing looming financial crisis in the institutions. Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha however gave an assurance that the matter was subject to consensus for an agreement on the way forward on how the higher learning institutions would transform their revenue sources to bridge the gap.
Magoha urged the students to stay calm on the matter as the ministry engages the other stakeholders to strike a common agreement on the matter.
A meeting bringing together the VCs, MPs serving in the education committee and the National Treasury on Wednesday ratified fees increment after the varsity heads decried lack of funding, saying that their only last viable resort was to raise the fees. Treasury PS Julius Muia and Higher Education PS Simon Nabukwesi both acknowledged the cash crunch crippling the universities hence their move to sanction the fees increments.
Dr Muia told the legislators in the meeting that they would present a Cabinet Paper as soon as January 2021 to argue out a case for the increment of fees.
“But this must start from the Ministry of Education forwarding to us a well thought-out and all-encompassing Cabinet Memorandum that we shall look through at the Treasury and forward to the Cabinet for discussion,” said Dr Muia.
Should the move go through, parents will have to dig deeper into their pockets to meet the price of higher education that now threatens to shoot over the roof. According to the proposal by the VCs, government-sponsored students will be required to pay Sh48,000 instead of the previous Sh16,000.
The government has always paid Sh70,000 for the students leaving just a remainder of Sh16,000 to be footed by the learners.
“As vice-chancellors, we are pitching that fees should be increased to Sh48,000, and this will go a long way in resolving many financial problems that universities presently face,” said Prof Geoffrey Muluvi, who is the VCs Committee chairperson.
The university administrators argue that the Sh16,000 which has been in existence for close to three decades has been bypassed by event and sticking to it would only mean piling financial misery on the institutions.
“With the current average unit cost per student at Sh254,644, by simply taking the current fees of Sh16,000 against the nominal figure of Sh86,000 on a proportional basis with respect to the current average unit cost, we have agreed that the student should pay an average figure of Sh47,376, which nominally could be adopted to be Sh48,000,” he added.
The development comes after it emerged that the institutions have always been cash-starved by just receiving a funding of 60 per cent instead of 80 per cent. The institutions are also facing tough decisions on how to ensure service delivery on a tight budget. This has subjected a number of them to contemplate retrenchments, mergers, scrapping of some campuses and much more. The students are also destined to feel the financial pinch after the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) slashed its funding from Sh45,000 to Sh37,000.