University Fee Hikes And Staff Layoffs Looming
University layoffs are creeping up, as the National Treasury issued new directives to improve the viability of institutions of higher learning.
Parents may be forced to pay higher university fees as the government proposes a review of tuition money.
Universities’ thrust to raise fees to Sh48,000 has been met with strong opposition from stakeholders, with the proposal being pushed back each time it is presented by vice-chancellors.
The government has included a fee increase among a slew of measures to help universities.
Details are incorporated in a new pitch for university mergers, a revised version of the funding formula, and the disposal of redundant assets, among other measures to help institutions manage their bills.
The revelations are contained in a letter from Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani to Education Prof George Magoha.
In a letter dated May 17, Yatani outlines seven key measures that he believes will go a long way toward addressing higher education’s funding crisis.
Yatani now wants a new rationalization of university staff, particularly non-teaching staff.
In the letter, Yatani requests that Magoha convene an urgent sector stakeholder meeting to discuss proposals to address the universities’ finding issues.
“In view of this you are advised to convene a meeting to bring together the ministry of education Universities and University college leadership to further discuss this matter and come up to workable recommendations,” Yatani said.
The letter to Magoha was in response to another letter in which additional funding for public and private universities was requested.
However, the National Treasury declined the request to extend additional funding to universities, instead suggesting cost-cutting measures such as layoffs and fee increases in new efforts to save bankrupt public universities.
The Exchequer declines the March 7 request and the April 13 request by the University of Nairobi for additional funding of Sh607.8 million and Sh13.26 billion, respectively.
The funds were sought to cover outstanding capitation for government-sponsored students at Uzima University as well as to settle the University of Nairobi’s outstanding statutory payment.
The letter, dated May 17, is addressed to Magoha and copied to University Education Principal Secretary Simon Nabukwesi by his Treasury counterpart Yatani.
The Treasury letter also urged the policy of placing students in private universities, which could result in private universities losing placement of State-sponsored students, which was implemented in 2017.
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The purser also proposes closing and merging some satellite campuses, as well as selling redundant assets.
Other suggestions include investing in income-generating activities and conducting a review of the Differentiated Unit Cost model, which is used to fund state-sponsored students at public and private universities.
The recommendations are not new; in fact, the Education CS first presented them in 2018, and they continue to be contentious among various stakeholders.
Magoha described the reforms at the time as a solution to the recurring financial struggles in public institutions; however, little progress has been made four years later.
The renewal to implement them is expected to exacerbate tensions among the university fraternity, which will be affected by the reforms’ ripple effects.
The letter acknowledges that the reforms will provide a one-time solution to existing problems in universities, and it requests that the Education Ministry convene a meeting with university heads to expedite policy formulation.
Since the initial proposal in 2018, efforts to implement them have been met with equal opposition from all quarters, including teaching and non-teaching staff who oppose layoff calls.