The Kenyan government has announced new policies aimed at resolving the funding crisis in public universities. The government will no longer provide grants to private universities for state-sponsored students. Additionally, a new student-centered funding model will be implemented, combining scholarships, loans, and household contributions based on students’ level of need. This is expected to make universities financially sustainable and relieve the burden on public institutions, which are struggling to meet obligations such as payroll taxes, retirement benefits, and insurance premiums for employees, with pending bills totaling Ksh 62 billion.
To facilitate the new framework, the government has increased funding for university education to Ksh 84.6 billion from Ksh 54 billion, which translates to an allocation increase per student from Ksh 152,000 to Ksh 208,000. The budgetary allocation for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions will also increase from Ksh 5.2 billion to Ksh 10 billion, translating to Ksh 67,000 per year per trainee.
Private universities will no longer receive government grants for state-sponsored students, a policy that was introduced in 2016 to address congestion in public institutions. This has resulted in private universities admitting a total of 78,650 state-sponsored students, with a differentiated unit cost requirement of Ksh 12.28 billion. However, the budget allocation has been insufficient, leading to private universities increasing tuition fees to bridge the funding gap.
The new funding model will categorize students into four levels of need – vulnerable, extremely needy, needy, and less needy – and allocate financing accordingly. The government hopes that this will reduce the burden on public universities and ensure financial sustainability. However, some legislators have dismissed the new framework, saying it will deny Kenyans access to quality education.