Private universities are seeking the National Assembly's intervention in order to get Sh5.6 billion to support government-sponsored students in their institutions this year.
Kenya Association of Private Universities (Kapu) chairman Mumo Kisau says funds allocated to the institutions is not enough to cater for the needs of the students.
Prof Kisau said already the budget allocation to private universities has been reduced by Sh200 million from the initial Sh2 billion, despite the fact that the number of students has increased from 6,312 in the 2016/2017 academic year to the current 29,826 in 2018/19.
“This number is expected to grow to about 40,000 students in private universities after the just released placement of students by Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS),” he said in a letter dated May 3 to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Michael Sialai.
In the letter, private universities say the funding has dropped to a level that is not practical for them to ensure quality education.
“This year ending in June 2019, the funds to be disbursed to private universities cannot meet the basic threshold to keep the students in class,” said the chairman.
He added that the situation is more severe for government-sponsored students in private universities who are faced by larger fee burdens.
“We write this letter to you to bring this matter to your attention in order that the current budget discussions at the floor of the House do not end up with the allocation that is below the bare minimum of the required funding of at least Sh5 billion for government sponsored students in private universities,” reads the letter.
According to a memorandum by the universities, they want fees paid by students increased from Sh70,000 to Sh140,000.
Prof Kisau says private universities are willing to continue supplementing within reasonable scopes efforts by the government to provide university education, but said the efforts should not lead to destruction of the private sector.
According to private universities, the government put in place a budgetary allocation of Sh2 billion to facilitate studies for government-sponsored students in 2017/2018 when the numbers were only 18,587. The memorandum says the amount of money given to students in private universities is far too low compared to actual cost of educating the students.
“For example, in one private university, using data from their audited accounts, the university has calculated their costs per student per year in the social sciences in 2016 and 2017 as Sh183,637 and Sh205,073 respectively,” reads the document.
Private universities first admitted government sponsored students in 2016 and took 6,312 students, in 2017 they took 12,275 while in 2018 they admitted 11,239. This year, the 29 private universities will admit 17,722 students under the government-sponsored programme.
Mount Kenya University will admit the highest number of students in this category at 2,883, Kabarak University will admit 2,252 students, KCA University (1,824), Catholic University of Eastern Africa (1,269) and the Kenya Methodist University (1,092).