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Inside government's plan to repeal HELB Act

The government plans to repeal the HELB Act in its raft of radical reforms on university education

President William Ruto and Education CS Ezekiel Machogu during a past function

The Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms proposed the repeal the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) Act.

The proposal is contained in the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms report which was submitted to President William Ruto on August 1.

Despite the existence of HELB, the team noted challenges such as:

  1. The TVET funding board was not operationalized thus disadvantaging students in TVET institutions.
  2. Diploma students admitted to universities were not funded because of the confusion about which organisation was responsible.
  3. Limited funding for graduate students.
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The report recommends that the HELB Act be repealed and replaced with a new law that will make it easier for students to access tertiary education financing and repay them.

The report also recommends the collapse of the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS), Universities Funding Board (UFB) and Technical and Vocational Education Fund (TVETF).

The government plans to pass the Tertiary Education Placement and Funding Bill establishing the Tertiary Education Placement and Funding Board.

In this new board, KUCCPS, HELB, UFB and TVETFB will be directorates.

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According to the task force, this will create a strong agency to fund students at the tertiary level of education and to ensure coherence between funding and placement.

Since the presidential directive on May 3, 2023, the government has developed and completed the Higher Education Financing Portal to receive applications for both scholarships, loans and bursaries.

Students who require funding must make formal applications through the Higher Education Financing Portal via www.hef.co.ke.

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Students are categorised according to three levels of need; vulnerable, less vulnerable, and able. All students shall be supported adequately to meet the cost of the program they choose to pursue.

University students

  • Vulnerable students: The government will fully fund the vulnerable students who comprise 29% of students joining university; 45,000 in universities and 42,000 students in TVETs.
  • Less vulnerable students: Students from less vulnerable backgrounds will receive government scholarships of up to 53% and loans from the government of up to 40%, a total of 93%.
  • 7% will be contributed by their households. 
  • Able students: Students from able backgrounds will be funded through a government scholarship up to a maximum of 38% of the cost of the program and 55% in the form of loans. Their household will pay only 7%.
  • Students in private universities will qualify for loans but not scholarships. 

TVET students

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  • Needy students will be fully funded. 
  • Less needy students in TVETs will receive government scholarships up to a maximum of 50% and 30% loans while their households will pay 20%.
  • Able students joining TVETs will be funded to the tune of 32% for government scholarships and 48% for government loans and their households will equally contribute 20%. 

Under the new funding model, needy students will get more scholarships and fewer loans, while able students will get more loans and fewer scholarships.

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