University fees are set to be hiked as early as 2021 after the Ministry of Education and the National Treasury approved a proposal by vice-chancellors to increase fees by three times.
While appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Education on Wednesday, December 2, senior treasury and education officials proposed that university fees be increased from Ksh 16,000 to Ksh 48,000.
The policy change, however, requires further approval by the National Assembly but with the backing of the committee, the proposal is likely to be adopted by the house.
Vice-chancellors have been pushing for the fee hike to help their institutions meet the funding gap that has seen them owe Ksh37 billion in statutory deductions and have struggled to maintain payrolls.
Treasury PS Julius Muia and Higher Education PS Simon Nabukwesi acknowledged that universities are facing a financial crisis and the fees will need to be reviewed.
PS Muia added that they were ready to pitch the case for universities’ financing plans by submitting a Cabinet Paper that contains fee hikes as early as January 2021.
“But this must start from the Ministry of Education forwarding to us a well-thought-out and all-encompassing Cabinet Memorandum that we shall look through at the Treasury and forward to the Cabinet for discussion,” he explained.
The current fees were set in 1989, a plan that has seen the government pay Ksh 70,000 while students pay Ksh 16,000.
Public universities vice-chancellors’ committee chair Geoffrey Muluvi explained that the cost had risen to Ksh 254,644 per student.
“With the current average unit cost per student at Ksh 254,644, by simply taking the current fees of Ksh 16,000 against the nominal figure of Ksh 86,000 on a proportional basis with respect to the current average unit cost, we have agreed that the student should pay an average figure of Ksh 47,376, which nominally could be adopted to be Ksh 48,000,” said Prof Muluvi.
The increase is expected to burden parents who are already feeling the pain of the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused salary cuts, job losses and slow economic growth.
University dons have proposed that to reduce the burden the Higher Loans Education Board should be added resources to avail more funds for university students.