By John Machio.
Public University Councils have resolved to seek alternative sources of income to support their core activities which include academic programmes and researchas Government funding taps run dry.
University Councils in a 15-point declaration dubbed Naivasha Communiqué on Reforms inUniversity Education, have committed to develop a five-year financing framework as a basis for adequate funding, showing their sources of income and proposed financialexpenditure projections.
Observing that there was insufficient and uncoordinated funding of students and other university programmes, the Councils committed to follow up with the Management Boards of Universities on accounting of funds from various sources, including the High Education Loans Board (HELB).
The Councils resolved to diversify University income through establishment of a wide range of sources which include conducting research for private organizations and other co-operate bodies at a fee, with the proceeds going towards financing varsity core activities – academic programmes, research and developmental projects among others.
The induction workshop for the newly appointed Public University Council members at Simba Lodge – Naivasha was also told it was high time Universities started to raise income from a wide range of sources, for instance, from foreign students, and through research and innovations.
Prof Dulacha Galgalo of Embu University College in a well-researched presentation later adopted by the Council members and the Commission of University Education (CUE) observed that unless local varsities internationalize their academic programmes and research projects, they will hardly raise adequate money to supplement the meagre funds they are allocated by the National Treasury. “The recent disclosure that the National Treasury will reduce funding to varsities is quite alarming and disturbing and therefore we need as a matter of priority to come up with bold strategies of sourcing for money to fund our institutions.
“Councils should work on logistics that will enable Universities to enter into viable partnership with industries for research purposes, of which the revenue derived from these activities, are channeled to their programmes or projects.
“To this end, we need to hold International Expos to market our academic programmes and also attract foreign students so as to generate more funds – Foreign exchange earning- just like it happens in the tourism industry,” said Prof Galgalo.
The scholar suggested that Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in collaboration with Foreign Affairs be brought into play to market Kenyan universities abroad. “This is a concept many foreign universities have adopted to attract revenue. Universities should market their academic programmes to foreign students, and more importantly, treat education or training as an international enterprise.
“By extension, University Councils should strive to brand Kenya as an educational destination, more so, local education and training must have an international appeal. Besides, Post-graduate curriculum should be market-driven, and more importantly, we should commercialize research and innovations – and patent whatever we innovate,” said the don.
The Chair of University Funding Board, Prof Kinandu Muragu disclosed that the National Treasury will from this Financial Year start funding Private universities and also offer loans.
He added that the Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) which will soon be introduced in Kenyan Public universities will ensure fair distribution (allocation) of tuition fee to students in each academic programme.
“In the 2016/2017 Financial Year, Public universities were allocated Sh32.81 billion, while in 2017/2018 these institutions have been allocated Sh33.31 billion which arguably is not enough. Local universities have to seek alternative sources of funding for their programmes and projects to supplement whatever they are allocated by the National Government,” said Muragu.
University Councils’ resolve comes at a time when Public universities are bracing for tough times ahead after the National Government cut funding by Sh5 billion in the 2016/2017 Supplementary estimates that will push universities deeper into financial crisis, because they have been operating on a Sh9 billion deficit.
The reduced funding also casts a spotlight on the survival of some universities, especially those that will now have to depend on students’ fees. Some of the programmes affected by the reduced funding are Research, Science, Technology and Innovations whose funding has been reduced by between Sh1 billion and Sh3 billion in the supplementary budget.
Presently, universities are struggling to survive, with a proposal already on the table to increase student fees by about Sh8,000.
The financial crisis experienced by Public universities is so dire that some institutions have been declared broke. Calls have already been made to the National Government to increase by Sh10 billion the annual capitation to varsities.
The move by the National government through Universities Funding Board (UFB) to implement the Differentiated Unit Cost is also increasing the level of uncertainty. Worse still, revelations that a fresh student enrollment audit has been ordered has thrown varsities in a state of panic.
Effective from July 1, 2017, UFB will roll out DUC that will strictly use students’ enrollment numbers and the courses they take to allocate funds. This will mark a departure from the current practice where each academic programme is allocated a flat rate of Sh120,000 per year.