A government report has revealed fraudulent ways public universities use to raise money to bridge their funding gaps.
A government report released this year says local universities increase enrollment numbers, hire under-qualified staffs while some admit students without minimum entry requirements.
The quality audit inspection report for public and private universities released this year reveals that some universities increase tuition fees while some launch cheap programmes to attract more students, in total disregard of the set standards.
Some universities engage in fraudulent credit transfers while others relax foreign students’ entry requirements to raise funds, according to the Commission for University Education (CUE) report.
The report reveals that universities engage in these education quality and standards breaches to shore up enrollment numbers to beat the funding crisis.
The report finds that some institutions develop many academic programmes, regardless of the availability of resources to complement them, while others mount unaccredited programmes.
The nature of programmes offered in various universities is largely determined by the nature of the institutions’ establishment, market forces, availability of resources, controls by professional bodies, availability of adequate space, facilities and teaching staff.
Another report released last year by CUE indicated that the 64 public and private universities had mounted a total of 3,408 programmes.
The Status of University Education (2016) report tabled at the first biennial conference in Nairobi says Bachelors level had 1,672 programmes (the highest), followed by masters (1,162), doctoral level (518) and postgraduate diploma (96).
Of the total, public universities had the bulk of programmes (2,752) representing 81 per cent, followed by private universities with 655 representing 19 per cent, according to the report.
The findings mirror this year’s CUE Inspection Audit (2017) report that finds many universities have mounted unaccredited programmes, while some were accredited but did not have students enrolled.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said early this year that some universities engage unqualified and inappropriate academic staff to support their academic programmes.
He said some establish satellite campuses in different regions in the country, regardless of the availability of complement resources.
The CUE report further finds that some institutions lower admission requirements regardless of the ability of the students to pursue particular academic disciplines.
The quality audit inspection report (2017) finds that some universities admit students who have not met the minimum admission grade of C+.
The report further reveals that some universities admit students with credits and distinctions in diploma courses into degree programmes with entry points of second, third or even fourth academic years.
And other institutions admit local and foreign students based on university diploma papers not equated to Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) diploma, while other universities out-rightly breach admission requirements for executive degree programmes.
Speaking during this year’s universities exhibition at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Matiang’i admitted that higher education is underfunded by about nine per cent.
However, he said Kenya is better funded compared to Uganda. Uganda funds public universities to the tune of about Sh5.8 billion, which is about 11 per cent.
“In Kenya, the government’s annual budget as of 2016 was Sh32.8 billion funding allocation to public universities which is also inadequate and its distribution is not equitable, leaving many institutions in crisis,” said Matiang’i.
He said universities have often exploited the funding gap to engage in unprofessional activities to raise more money.
“In view of the funding challenges experienced by universities in Kenya, many universities have resorted to using various methods of raising their revenue levels,” he said.
Matiang’i said some public universities engage in partial privatisation of universities, even as the number private universities rise.
“Some increased tuition charges, resulting in limited access to university education, especially among students from low income families,” he said.
The CS said some institutions compromise on the necessary research, creativity and innovations to cut budgets.
“Some develop relatively cheap academic programmes at the expense of more expensive academic programmes that enhance realisation of the country’s development agenda,” he said.
The report also found that universities are increasingly apportioning funds to support non-core activities, such as marketing and advertisement, at the expense of learning activities, including teaching and learning, research and innovations.
The 2016 CUE report revealed that funds collected between 2012 and 2016 was Sh171.7 billion.
Of these, public universities collected Sh117.9 billion, with private institutions collecting Sh53.8 billion. Money from government capitation was Sh133.4 billion.
The report says the universities spent more than half of the money collected on salaries.
“Staff costs took the highest amount at Sh197.52 billion. Of these public universities spent Sh165.88 billion and private universities spent Sh31.64 billion.”
Only Sh42.6 billion was spent on improving universities’ infrastructure.
Article originally published on The Standard Digital on November 18, 2017 by Augustine Oduor