According to a yet-to-be-determined formula that is now being discussed, the 173,345 candidates who qualified for university admission will have to pay significantly more than their predecessors.
Ezekiel Machogu, the cabinet secretary for education, indicated that discussions are happening at the highest levels of government to find a way to pay for university education given the increased number of Form 4 graduates.
Speaking with media yesterday, Mr. Machogu claimed that not all of the 173,345 candidates who scored a mean grade of C+ or higher would receive government sponsorship, despite the fact that a decision had not yet been made regarding the methodology to be used.
“The level of funding has remained the same yet the number has more than doubled since 2016. The Ministry of Education takes 25 per cent of the national budget. If we’re to sponsor everybody, it could rise even to 35 per cent,” the CS said.
This implies that students who meet the requirements but do not receive government funding will need to pay for their university education. Mr. Machogu stated that in order to decide on the new policy change, his ministry would rely on the recommendations made by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER) at the end of March.
According to the Education CS, there are “several negotiations” ongoing over university finance. The recent policy change was alluded to by President William Ruto, who stated that only students in need would receive money for their university studies.
We have students in academies who spend Sh200,000 per term, but we tell them we can pay for all of their university expenses. Why? Why don’t we allow parents who can afford it to pay for their children’s primary and secondary educations to do the same for their children in university so that we can support the children of those who cannot afford it? asked Dr. Ruto in a January 4, 2023 interview with journalists at State House.
Students in public universities have over the last three decades paid Sh16,000 as tuition fees, irrespective of their courses, with the government expected to foot the balance. It is this obligation that universities administrations accuse the government of not fulfilling, plunging them in their current financial woes.
Mr Machogu said that the government would come up with a sustainable and permanent solution for higher education. He supported proposals to merge the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB), Universities Fund and the Tvet Fund.
“Students get money from constituency bursaries, county government bursaries and Helb. You can’t know who’s given what. These need to be harmonised so that we have system to identify Kenyans who’re needy,” the CS said.
The number of students qualifying for university admission has gone back to the figures before ex-education cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i instituted reforms aimed at curbing rampant cheating in national examinations. The strict measures saw the number of university qualifiers drop from 169,492 in 2015 to 88,928 in 2016.
Mr Machogu said that the measures hurt the higher education sector.