About 10,000 students are set to benefit from government scholarships to study at private universities beginning in September after President Uhuru Kenyatta and university vice-chancellors agreed on the deal on Tuesday.
At the State House meeting, it was agreed that the number of students under the new Sh700 million programme will go up in subsequent years
The Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service has been asked to work within the next two weeks to ensure that the students are admitted to their respective universities.
So far, more than 74,389 students are expected to join public universities starting in September.
President Kenyatta said the move would provide more students with the chance to pursue courses of their choice.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said his ministry will in the next intake increase the number to 20,000 students.
Dr Matiang’i said the law requires taxpayer-funded students who miss placement in public universities to be sponsored to join private universities.
The decision to admit government-sponsored students in private universities was a recommendation of a task force constituted by the Education minister earlier this year.
Under the programme, Sh700 million will be used to cater for the government-sponsored students.
The government will pay Sh70,000 per student while the students will be required to pay Sh16,000.
The announcement is a major victory for private universities, which have been seeking a share of government-sponsored students since 2013 following the enactment of the 2012 Universities Act, which allowed the admission of the students to private universities.
During the meeting, President Kenyatta challenged public universities to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of public resources.
For his part, National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairman Francis ole Kaparo faulted public universities and colleges for promoting negative ethnicity.
Mr Kaparo decried the favouritism displayed by the higher education institutions, saying appointment of staff is usually based on ethnicity rather than merit.