Private Universities Propose Abolition Of Automatic Government sponsorship of students
Private universities have launched a campaign aimed at influencing the government to stop offering automatic sponsorship to all students joining universities and colleges through government sponsorship. If the proposal goes through, then all students who score a C+ and above in their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams will not be guaranteed of automatic sponsorship by the government.
Report submitted to the National Assembly’s Education and Research Committee by the Kenya Association of Private Universities reveals that some students are able to pay for their university education comfortably.
“Private universities humbly request this honourable committee to order the development of a sustainable criteria for determining who deserves government sponsorship,” said the association’s acting chair Prof Philip Maiyo. Maiyo is also the Vice-Chancellor, University of Eastern Africa-Baraton.
According to Maiyo, students joining universities should apply for government sponsorship the same way they apply for Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) funds.”
Prof Maiyo was speaking in Mombasa during a two-day retreat with the parliamentary committee chaired by Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua. The meeting also brought together all vice-chancellors from public universities, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha and University Education and Research Principal Secretary Simon Nabukwesi.
The private universities decry the unsustainability in the current sponsorship methodology, which even caters for students who have the ability to pay college fees. If the proposal goes through, the private universities will spearhead its implementation.
Private universities blame the current financial constraints in both private and public universities on Sponsoring all students who score a C+, which has allegedly contributed the reduced numbers of self-sponsored students, who were a major source of income for the institutions.
Initially, only students who scored a minimum of B (plain) would be sponsored, a grade which would be lowered to B- for girls. In 2017 however, the government announced that it would start sponsoring all students who score C+ and above and also began allocating some students to private universities.
The private universities have also asked MPs to protect them by ensuring that a push to stop the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service from allocating students to them is not effected.
“This committee should protect and safeguard the freedom of Kenyan students to choose the programmes and institutions of their choice in line with the constitution and other statutory provisions,” said the association.
The association defended the placement of students in private universities saying it is enshrined in the Universities Act, and supported by Sessional Paper No14 of 2012 which seeks to promote private-public partnership in universities.
“The main driving force behind placement of government sponsored students is to promote equity and access to quality education as enshrined in the Universities Act, the constitution and other provisions,” said Prof Maiyo