Kenya: MPs want government to stop sending students to private universities

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MPs yesterday began lobbying to prevent the government from sending students to private universities, a move that could spell the end of 34 private universities benefiting from the financial sustainability program.

Members of the Public Accounts Committee challenged the principal secretary of the Ministry of Education responsible for research and university teaching, Mr. Simon Nabukwesi, to explain why billions of shillings are allocated to private universities when public universities close their satellite campuses due to financial constraints.

“KUCCPS (Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service) needs to explain the criteria they use to place students in public and private universities. Aden Duale, MP for Garissa Township.

MPs said institutions such as the University of Nairobi, Moi University, Kenyatta, Garissa, Maseno and Murang’a all struggle to survive as they do not receive enough funding due to low student numbers.

“There seems to be collusion with these private universities and I will suggest that the law amending the Universities Act (2013), which allowed the government to start sending students to private institutions, be amended,” said Mr. Duale.

Mr. Nabukwesi, however, said the ministry does not support the assignment of students to private universities because the majority of public universities do not meet their declared capacities.

“I expressed my concern that many students were placed in private universities while many public universities did not accommodate enough students,” said Mr. Nabukwesi.

The PS said that in order to ensure that public universities receive more students, the ministry asked the student placement agency to open the inter-transfer portal for students willing to apply and apply. transfer to public universities.

“When I inquired with the KUCCPS, they told me that they place the students according to their choices and that they cannot go against the will of the candidates”, said the PS .

MPs said they would not pass the bill amending the Universities Bill (2020) because it allows private universities to continue to receive government funds. MPs said the bill also wants vice-chancellors’ recruiting powers restored to councils, but they want this to remain with the Civil Service Commission.

The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, James Wandayi, said it was against the rule of law for the government to continue funding private universities while public universities did not have funds.

“We need a forensic audit of all funds that have been donated to private universities and in the future this anomaly needs to be corrected,” he said.

University Fund Board CEO Geoffrey Monari told MPs that the government pays an average of 157,000 shillings to students at public universities, while students at private universities each receive 67,000 shillings on average.

“We use the differentiated unit cost to fund students based on the course they are taking,” Monari said.

Mr. Monari explained that funding for private universities is increasing every year.

“In 2021/2022, private universities received 3.3 billion shillings, in 2020/2021 they received 2.7 billion shillings, in 2019/2020 they received 1.9 billion shillings,” he said. -he declares.

The PS said the allocation was despite the education ministry submitting budget estimates to the Parliamentary Education Committee, excluding the allocation for private universities.

“We were surprised when MEPs from the Education Committee decided to allocate funds to private universities,” Nabukwesi said.

During the 2021 internship, public universities could not fulfill their declared capacities, some not having been able to accommodate half of the students they expected.

Universities include Turkana University, which had declared a total of 1,130 places and received only 518 students or 45.84 percent, Grate Lakes University in Kisumu, which had declared 2,550 places but did received only 224 students representing 8 percent, while Taita Taveta University, which had declared 1,795 slots received only 524 students representing 29 percent.

MPs said the government must step in to protect public universities and start placing all students under government sponsorship of institutions to prevent them from collapsing.

In the 2021 university placement, private universities welcomed a total of 28,063 students, more than the 27,447 placed in universities the previous year.

The top five private universities that received the most students were Mount Kenya University (5,489), Catholic University of East Africa (2,691), KCA University (2,724) , Kabarak University (2,157) and Zetech University (1,673).

The government started placing students in private universities in September 2016.

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