The government has proposed radical changes that if implemented would see students pursuing courses not considered priority areas for development under Vision 2030 lose state funding.
The new changes are being pushed by some vice-chancellors and the Universities Fund (UF).
UF is a state agency established under section 53 of the Universities Act 2012 to among others, provide funds for financing universities.
The proposals that could affect thousands of students in higher learning institutions are contained in a document titled “Reforms on the University Sector and Research”.
The document details that Universities should be categorised in major thematic areas such as universities of science and technology, research, sports and creative arts, and generalised universities.
According to the proponents, students who apply to universities with strong foundations in science, agriculture or technology, should only receive funding if they are admitted to study those courses.
The VCs in support of the new changes argue that the government should only prioritise its resources to fund only students it wishes to support.
Vice Chancellors Committee chairperson Geoffrey Muluvi told The Standard in an interview that the proposals were informed by a drop in state funding over the years.
“The resources cannot reach all students and funding should be based on available resources,” said Muluvi.
However, some VCs are opposed to the proposals. They argue that the priority approach is contentious “because all courses are important in their own right”.
Similar sentiments are shared by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Board (KUCCPS).
KUCCPS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Muraguri said that the board considers all courses to be a priority because they are vetted by The Commission for University Education (CUE).
But CUE has stated that there is need for Universities to align their courses with the strategic sectors that address national development priorities.
“Universities can identify priority programmes by looking at key directions taken by the nation, including Vision 2030, geared towards making Kenya a middle-income country,” said Ntarangwi.
The proposal details that Universities can develop their courses in line with Vision 2030’s key pillars which includes economic, social and political areas.
Some of the programmes listed as priority areas include Education (Arts), Education (Science), Medicine and Surgery, Medical Laboratory, Nursing, Pharmaceutical Science, Public Health, Environment and Natural Resources, Marine Science, Engineering and Law.
Others are Public Administration and Political Science, Tourism and Hospitality, Agriculture and Food Security Livestock and Fisheries, Veterinary Medicine, Manufacturing, Actuarial Science, Business, Finance, Accounting and Procurement and aviation.