Education CS Prof George Magoha has maintained that the government will continue admitting government-sponsored students to private universities as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Initially, it was reported that University Education Principal Secretary Simon Nabukwesi had dismissed the directive by the President, saying that the Ministry did not support the move.
“I want to believe he was misquoted. If not, then he was speaking for himself because he is not in charge of policy. I am not aware of such plans as the Cabinet Secretary,” said Magoha.
Magoha said the practice is legal, quoting Section 56 (1) (a) of the Universities Act which says Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) shall “co-ordinate the placement of the government-sponsored students to universities and colleges”.
“Our analysis has even shown that it is cheaper to admit students to private universities. It costs less than 50 percent to send students to private universities. And they have equally level facilities,” added the no-nonsense CS.
President Kenyatta directed KUCCPS to place government-sponsored students in private universities in 2015, with the programme kicking off in 2016. At least 60,000 students sponsored by the government have been placed in private universities between 2015 and 2020.
Nabukwesi was quoted saying that the money channeled to private universities should go to underfunded public universities. Since 2016, private universities have received Ksh9 billion from the government for government-sponsored students.
Most government-sponsored students choosing private universities are doing courses like medicine, law, nursing, public health, media, international relations, hospitality and pharmacy.
This comes at a time there is a heated debate about the practice, with the KUCCPS board split in the middle.
Vice-Chancellors Committee Chairperson Prof Geoffrey Muluvi believes that the practice should be abandoned, and the funding diverted to public universities.
“Let it go on record that we are opposed to this programme and we need a review,” said Prof Muluvi.
On the other hand, the Kenya Association of Private Universities (KAPU) in the KUCCPS board Prof Mumo Kisau says the practice is legal, supporting Prof Magoha’s position.
“The Universities Act requires students’ placement by KUCCPS be done to universities. It dos not mention whether public or private,” said Mumo.
There is a push to amend the Universities Act through the Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which will see VCs removed from the KUCCPS board and instead require that councils send a representative to sit on the board.
Also to be kicked out of the board are representatives from the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) and Kenya Association of Technical Training Institutions (KATTI).