Why Kenyan universities could soon run broke

Private and public universities are now staring at a possible financial crisis.

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Kenyan universities could soon find themselves facing a cash crunch as incomes from fee-paying students decline following reforms introduced in national examinations last year.

Public universities, who have been depending on fees from parallel degree programmes, may have to look for other modes of funding as the number of applicants is set to sharply decline.

The same applies to private universities who like their counterparts, mint billions of shillings courtesy of the huge chunk of students who don’t qualify for state sponsorship for higher education.

A lecturer in one of the leading universities reiterated the above issue noting that changes in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) had drastically reduced the number of university qualifiers, all of whom are now assured of government sponsorship.

“The advantage is that universities will no longer have to struggle with bulging classes, but they have to contend with reduced incomes from fee-paying students. The universities must therefore think differently to generate new funds to survive,” said the lecturer.

Last year, Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i introduced stringent measures in national exams to curb rampant cheating that resulted to the number of candidates scoring incredibly high marks, as before, dropping instantly.

In 2016, about 89,000 candidates scored the minimum entry point grade for university, C+ and above compared to 169,000 in 2015.

In 2015, the universities admitted about 85,000 students, leaving nearly half of the qualifiers to go after parallel programmes.

While public universities have the consolation of getting a huge share of the government sponsored students because of the low fees they charge, private universities will most likely struggle to get the required numbers due to the cost factor.

Even then, most private universities offer art-based courses which puts them at a disadvantage and may force them to re-engineer their business models so as to survive.

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