Public university students could pay more fees next year if Parliament approves a proposal by vice chancellors to raise charges three-fold.
The VCs made the proposal to meet the “declining financial situation” in the institutions.
Currently, students pay an average of Sh16,000 on top of the government capitation. This amount has been constant since 1989, when the total cost of training was set at Sh89,000.
A model the government uses to fund universities shows that the cost of running the cheapest course stands at Sh250,000 annually.
The proposal to the Budget and Appropriation committee means students will be required to pay an average of Sh48,000.
Vice Chancellor’s Committee chairperson Francis Aduol on Friday said the agreed amount will meet the discrepancies caused by inflation and shifts in economic scales.
“At the moment, what the government gives universities is not enough to run them. The funds are not even enough to pay staff. Vice chancellors are forced to run up and down and ensure the institutions still operate. This hurts the quality of education,” Aduol said at a conference in Nairobi.
Universities say students pursuing science courses have been the worst hit because practicals have been reduced.
Aduol said the staff-to-student ratio stands at 1:50 against the international recommendation of 1:15. He said staff salaries exceeded capitation in the last three financial years. This has consequently led to the institutions sinking into debts, the TUK boss said.
Data sent to the Education ministry on outstanding debts reveal that the universities cumulatively owe Sh7 billion. The financial problem has been worsened by deep budget reduction by the government.
This financial year, for example, the capitation granted to the universities was cut by Sh4 billion — from Sh39 billion in the previous financial year to Sh35 billion.
Embu VC Daniel Mugendi said the growth of universities has not been matched with requisite funding. He said generation of revenue suffered with the increase in universities and decline in Module 2 or parallel programme students in 2016, following changes on how KCSE exams are administered.
Out of a total 160,000 slots available to fresh admissions, only 69,000 students qualified to get the cut-off mark for admission in both public and private universities.
This means at least 91,000 slots remain vacant, with no students to fill. This hurts Module 2 programmes as the number of government-sponsored students remained the same.
Education CS Amina Mohamed urged the universities to scout for alternative and innovative means of raising funds.
Speaking at the conference, Amina said universities should reengineer the dominant financing model — government funding —and come up with ways to improve it or propose a different funding model.
“Most universities will be severely crippled if the government stops remitting cash to them under the capitation model so there is need to ensure you are stable and stop relying on government funding,” she said.
In the last five years, student enrolment has risen from 122,847 in 2008 to 586,434 this year, with public universities having the largest number of enrolment ( 507,554 ).
The government spends about 27 per cent of its budget on education, with Sh103 billion going to universities.