Public universities’ fees will be increased next year if proposals by a state agency mandated to advice on the institutions’ funding is approved, bringing to an end the low tuition charges that government-sponsored students have been paying since the mid-90s.
The University Funding Board said yesterday that fees should be increased by 30 per cent to match universities’ needs and inflation over the past two decades.
Students starting joining the institutions after next year will be expected to pay annual fees of about Sh33,700, up from the current Sh26,000.
“Our target is to have an increase of 30 per cent fee increase,” said Kinandu Muragu, the chairman of the board, while addressing top public university officials.
If approved, it will be the first major increase of fees since the end of free university education in 1991 and the introduction of the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) in 1995.
Of the Sh26,000, tuition fee takes Sh16,000 with each student paying Sh8,000 and the other half settled by Helb. The remaining bit goes to charges like registration, amenity, medical and activity fees. The amount has remained unchanged since 1995.
Kenya has 31 public universities and Prof Muragu reckoned that the fees increase will generate an additional Sh36 billion to the institutions, which face a financial crunch.
The rise looks set to spark protests by students who have previously opposed the move.
“For instance, more than 2,000 students were paying school fees of about Sh1 million while in secondary school. At the university level they want to learn for free,” Prof Muragu said.
“Time has come to deliberate this issue critically. If a child is from a poor background that child should be supported fully while those who can afford to pay fees should be allowed to pay,” he said.
A number of projects have stalled at universities due to shortage of funds and mismanagement.
This comes at a time when student enrolment at public universities has risen sharply from 289,733 in 2014 to 479,312 in June this year.
This has put a strain on facilities despite the opening of new campuses over the period.
A 2010 study by the World Bank and the government recommended a new financing model that would have doubled fees and increased interest paid on Helb loans.
Lecturers of public universities went on strike on November 3 to protest against the government’s failure to implement a pay rise deal.
The universities begun admitting students in the parallel programme — where fees are pegged on the cost of courses — in 1998. Fees range from Sh150,000 to half a million shilling a year depending on the course.