Private universities under their umbrella body NAPUK, want the current model of funding students joining the higher learning institutions and university placement reviewed to ensure sustainability.
The varsities under the National Association of Private Universities in Kenya (Napuk) maintain that the model is high-priced and therefore unsustainable.
Napuk quipped that students should be placed in institutions subject to the availability of adequate funds for the same.
Association’s secretary general Dr Vincent Gaitho said that the number of students placements to the universities through the Kenya Universities and College Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) should be reduced to enable the government to fund all students.
Gaitho spoke during a public participation forum organised by the Presidential Working Party (PWP) task force on education reforms at Chania Boys high school in Thika on Saturday.
He said the Ministry of Education’s budget allocation for university placement has stagnated over time despite the increased number of government-sponsored students in both public and private universities, especially since the 100 per cent transition policy.
“Budgeting and placement should be informed by the cost of training for each student. The current financing model has made sponsoring students a huge burden because they are now funded lowly compared to the cost of their academic programmes,” Gaitho said.
He divulged that the cost of training a student at a private university in a year is Sh157,000 but the government pays Sh40,000 only.
“This leaves the universities with the burden of subsidising government-sponsored students,” he said.
Gaitho also called on the government to address the “glaring discrimination” in government capitation of students. He said students in private universities receive less than half the capitation received by government-sponsored students in public universities.
At the same time, Napuk recommends that the institutions should explore other alternative income sources and see to it that there is prudent financial management of all university funds to solve financial hiccups bedevilling higher learning institutions.
Gaitho also noted that private varsities in the country want government intervention through the Ministry of Education in enhancing online teaching and use of e-learning platforms as well as enhancing the Commission for University Education’s Open, Distance and E-Learning (Odel) platforms.
Among the projects, Napuk recommends to actualise Odel is nation-wide internet connectivity.
The Association maintained that the national government can partner with county governments in rolling out internet connectivity with free WiFi hotspots inappropriate sites and open public parks.
“We do not see the need to introduce and operationalise the Open University of Kenya since it will be a duplication of the already existing open universities in most Kenyan universities under the Odel platform,” Gaitho said.
“The introduction and operationalisation of the Open University of Kenya will be of significant cost to public financing given the already cash-strapped situation in most public universities. OUK is as good as the Odel platform already in place in a majority of universities in Kenya.”
University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama, who is the chair of the task force in the central region, said some courses offered in universities are expensive to train and students pursuing them should be adequately funded.
He said Kenyan universities are recognised globally and need to be financially stable through adequate funding.
“The government should ensure that university placement is adequately funded to avoid a situation whereby universities become burdened with financial struggles,” Kiama said.
Prof Salome Kinyanjui of Presbyterian University and Prof Gitau Kamau of Zetech University said that adequate financing of higher learning institutions will enhance access to education by all Kenyans.