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Ruto to review funding of university courses

Monday September 13 2010

Higher education minister William Ruto (right) addresses journalists as the assistant minister Asman Kamama looks on during a consultative meeting between the minister, private universities vice chancellors and private universities council chairmen at the ministry's offices on September 06 2010. PHOTO / PHOEBE OKALL

Higher education minister William Ruto (right) addresses journalists as the assistant minister Asman Kamama looks on during a consultative meeting between the minister, private universities vice chancellors and private universities council chairmen at the ministry's offices on September 06 2010. PHOTO / PHOEBE OKALL  

By BENJAMIN MUINDI [email protected]

Only students studying science and technology courses in public universities will be assured of funding by the government.

Higher Education minister William Ruto said on Monday that priority for funding would be based on the actual cost of mounting the course and how it contributed to attainment of Vision 2030.

Currently all the courses are funded on equal basis yet some like medicine and architecture cost more.

“Courses will be funded differently depending on how they contribute to creating the human resource required for economic growth,” Mr Ruto said.

At the same time, the universities will be exempted from paying taxes on building materials to enable them put up more facilities to cope with rising student numbers.

The move on financing courses is intended to develop skills required to attain Vision 2030, the socio-economic blueprint anchored in science and technology.

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This means students pursuing courses like anthropology, philosophy, history and archaeology will have to pay for their studies.

Other science-based courses like range management, forestry, wood technology could also be phased out.

Speaking after a meeting with vice-chancellors and principals of constituent colleges, Mr Ruto said universities would independently fund courses found “irrelevant” if they have to offer them.

Effectively, this means the seven public universities will have to review their curricula for government funding. Exact details on how the universities will be funded will be worked out by the Commission of Higher Education.

Mr Ruto also announced that Kenya’s first open university would start operations in January next year.

The minister’s remarks come barely two weeks after it emerged the country had a shortage of teachers for arts and languages.