Anxiety is building over the delay of the universities and colleges intake of more than 880,000 students who sat last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination.
Sources reveal that uncertainty on the amount of money available to sponsor students in public institutions could have delayed the selection process.
Officials are mulling whether to raise university cut-off points or increase tuition fees. It is also emerging that managers of universities and colleges are worried that continued delay of courses revision may affect their learning timetables.
Parents are also anxious over fake placement posters and messages indicating that the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) portal has been opened to allow their children to revise courses.
Vice chancellors and college principals who said the delayed opening of KUCCPS portal could be costly.
“We do not want to talk about it now because we have a meeting in Mombasa where we shall also seek to know more about this, but clearly this delay is not good,” said a VC.
Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu is today expected to open the first Biennial Kenya Universities Funding Conference under the theme Universities for Sustainable Future. The meeting brings together top ministry and industry players.
“We are hoping that during this conference some decisions will be made so that we do not keep children anxiously waiting to pursue their dream careers,” said the VC.
KUCCPS Chief Executive Mercy Wahome yesterday said they need about two and half months to complete this process for students to make choices.
“Students need one month for transfers and for parents to make arrangements for admission of their children because most universities open in August,” said Dr Wahome.
This means that the KUCCPS portal should have been opened by mid-February to beat the strict timelines of placement and admissions.
Speaking during the release of last year’s KCSE examination results, Machogu directed KUCCPS to quickly roll out the placement process.
“The Placement Service should also engage with higher education regulatory bodies – Commission for University Education (CUE) and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA) – to ensure that all learning institutions are prepared to enrol new students,” he said.
Dr Wahome said KUCCPS has already received candidates’ results from the Kenya National Examinations Council and the universities and colleges capacities have been validated by regulators.
“KUCCPS has done its work. We are waiting for a go ahead to open the portal for students,” she said.
The Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms last week proposed an increase of university fees from Sh16,000, a matter that also insiders said the President was slow to adopt.
“The fees for government sponsored students (Sh16,000.00) have not been adjusted upwards since 1989. It should be raised up to a minimum of Sh48,000-Sh52,000,” reads the report.
“Striking a balance that is most fair to all students remains to be the headache in the placement and admission process,” said a source at the Ministry of Education.
The big question is whether all the 173,345 students who scored C+ and above can be admitted to universities.
Calculations by The Standard reveal that for university education alone, the government will require about Sh30 billion if all the qualified students secured admission.
Ordinarily, the government allocates Sh140,000 to each university student per academic year to cater for tuition. This translates to Sh24.3 billion per year for all the 173,345 students.
Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) Chief Executive Charles Ringera last week told MPs that agency has a funding gap of Sh5.7 billion that would affect more than 140,000 students.
The agency provides long-term loans, ranging between Sh40,000 and Sh60,000 per year, for upkeep and purchase of learning materials for students
This means that the Sh5.7 billion is premised on each university student being allocated about Sh40,500 per year.
If the 100 per cent transition policy is enforced at this level, more billions would be needed to support 672,841 students who scored grade C and D–.
The government spends Sh30,000 on each TVET student annually towards capitation. Together with upkeep money sent to students, the total amount Helb requires to fund each TVET student is about Sh40,000 per year. The average TVET fees is Sh56,000.
Yesterday, Ringera said Helb cannot provide any data on funding projections, stating that “things will be clearer after the task force turns in their final report”.