East Africa’s best university is broke and in dire need of cash

University of Nairobi (UoN)
  • The University of Nairobi is broke and groaning under huge debts, among them Sh1.6 billion ($160 million) in unremitted pension and statutory deductions for its workers.
  • Prof Mbithi also said sudden and unplanned budget cuts due to the new formula of costing degree programmes and differentiated units costs had left the institution with Sh1.7 billion ($170 million) hole.
  • The University of Nairobi (UoN) was recently ranked as the best university in East Africa and positioned eight on the continent in the latest Webometrics ranking of world universities.

The University of Nairobi (UoN), which was recently ranked as the best university in East Africa and positioned eight on the continent in the latest Webometrics ranking of world universities, is broke and groaning under huge debts, among them Sh1.6 billion ($160 million) in unremitted pension and statutory deductions for its workers, Vice-Chancellor Peter Mbithi has revealed.

Speaking during the first state of the university address, Prof Mbithi also said sudden and unplanned budget cuts due to the new formula of costing degree programmes and differentiated units costs had left the institution with Sh1.7 billion ($170 million) hole.

This has immensely affected the delivery of services,” he said.

The Vice-Chancellor added that the huge wage bill due to clamour for higher pay by trade unions had worsened the situation.

“Ultimately, this exerts a major strain in our dwindling cash flows. The university continued to experience disruptions due to frequent industrial actions, leading to the disruption of the various academic programmes,” he said.

As a result of the crippling debts, Prof Mbithi said the university was unable to settle pension debt occasioned by 2013-17 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and statutory obligations as at June 30, 2018.

The University of Nairobi (UoN) is Kenya’s oldest public university having been founded in 1970. The University is also one of the largest institutions of higher learning in the country, and it is located in a prime spot overlooking Nairobi’s city centre.

Notable alumni of the University of Nairobi include the late Nobel peace prize laureate, Wangari Mathai.

Globally the university is among the top 1,000 best universities in the world, currently ranked at position 990. The Webometrics ranking focused on 11,995 universities across the world.

Other leading universities in Kenya include Kenyatta, Egerton, Moi and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Science which were ranked as the best five public universities in the country.

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