University Placement and Funding for Private Universities Comes to an End
Private universities are set to experience tough times after the government decided to terminate the treasury’s funding for the institutions.
This was hinted at by the 2023-24 Budget Policy Statement which indicated that the state had initiated the process of ending placement of government-sponsored students in private universities starting the next financial year.
If the move is approved in parliament, it will spell doom for private universities that have been relying on state capitation to stay relevant amid the financial issues that higher institutions of learning have faced.
The policy was introduced in 2016 as part of the government’s strategy of ensuring that students who score a minimum entry grade of C+ (Plus) are absorbed and funded by the government.
The Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) is tasked with the placement of students in institutions of higher learning.
However, the recent announcement from the State Department for Higher Education and Research through the placement body that placement of students in private universities is set to have significant ramifications for private institutions.
The move is also feared to cause thousands of students to miss out on direct entry to universities because of the limited slots which are determined by bed capacity.
Since the programme’s inception in 2016, it is approximated that private universities have received around Kes. Billion.
In the 2017/2018 financial year, Kes. 1.56 billion was disbursed to the programme while in the 2020/2021 financial year, a total of Kes. 2.7 billion was disbursed.
Funding of private institutions was cast in doubt after lawmakers questioned why the government had been funding private universities which are not open to audit by the national Auditor-General.
Public universities are grappling with financial issues with debts of more than Kes. 56 billion. There have been calls to undertake a review of the funding policy of private universities.
Public Investments Committee on Education and Government proposed a review of the policy citing the non-existent capacity gap between slots available in public universities as compared to qualified students.
In addition, the Committee’s Chairperson said that the objectives of private universities are dissimilar to those of public universities. Most private institutions are profit-making entities and their objectives may not be the same as the goals of national development.
Bumula Member of Parliament (MP) said that public universities should give the first priority to filling up the vacancies to one hundred per cent before financing students through capitation in private entities.
According to details from the Universities Fund, the State currently pays for 20.79 per cent of the unit costs for government-sponsored students in private universities and 48.11 per cent of those in public universities.
The United States International Universities quit admitting government-sponsored students due to underfunding. Strathmore University also stopped admitting government-sponsored students for the same reasons.
However, Mount Kenya University, Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) and Daystar University are among the private universities that are still admitting government-sponsored students.