Major players in the education sector have united to triple university tuition fees, a move that will see parents and guardians dig dipper into their pockets to support their children’s education.
The National Treasury yesterday told Parliament that it supports the proposal by Vice-Chancellors to increase the fees as part of efforts to keep the institutions afloat amid a strained economy.
While appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Education, National Treasury Principal Secretary Julius Muia told the lawmakers that reviewing the fees is part of policy option to ensure financial sustainability of universities.
The VCs propose that the tuition fees be increased from the current Ksh16,000 to Ksh48,000 for new students per year.
“Our suggestion is that we increase tuition fee to Ksh48,000, then raise bursary allocation for those students not able to raise that amount,” said Muia.
The Education Ministry which was represented by University Education PS Simon Nabukwesi backed the fee increase proposal and enumerated the reforms plan for the higher education sector.
With the committee backing the review, the policy changes are likely to be approved by the National Assembly.
The development sets the stage for the process of hicking of the university fees which vice-chancellors said will cure many financial problems that the institutions are facing.
Muia told the lawmakers that the Treasury is ready to pitch the case for universities financing plan by submitting a Cabinet Paper that contains fees hikes as early as next month — January 2021.
“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,” he explained.
The current fees formula was developed in 1989 and based on it all government-sponsored students get a flat rate of Ksh120,000 per year. Of this, Ksh86,000 is tuition fees while Ksh34,000 caters for students’ personal expenses, including accommodation, food and books.
The state pays Ksh70,000 of the tuition money with students left to pay Ksh16,000.
According to Prof Geoffrey Muluvi, VCs Committee chairperson, the current Ksh16,000 tuition fee had long been overtaken by events and was overdue for review.
“With the current average unit cost per student at Ksh254,644, by simply taking the current fees of Ksh16,000 against the nominal figure of Ksh86,000 on a proportional basis with respect to the current average unit cost, we have agreed that the student should pay an average figure of Ksh47,376, which nominally could be adopted to be Ksh48,000,” Prof Muluvi told the lawmakers.
The move to hike university fees is likely to overburden parents who are still facing tough economic times due to the coronavirus effects on the economy.
This is also a major blow to students and parents considering the fact that the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) funding has been reduced from Ksh45,000 to Ksh37,000.
Helb Chief Executive Officer Charles Ringera has attributed the reduction of funding to the Covid-19 crisis that has slowed down loan recoveries as many Kenyans have lost their jobs.