Government to scrap varsity funding for students not pursuing “priority” courses

The University of Nairobi. [Photo courtesy]

A raft of changes proposed by the government could cease funding students who are pursuing courses not categorized as “priority” in line with Vision 2030.

Vice-Chancellors and the Universities Fund (UF) are reportedly behind the new push contained in the “Reforms on the University Sector and Research”.

UF is pushing for the reforms in line with its constitutional mandate to provide funds for financing universities.

Reforms on the University Sector and Research report recommend that all universities be categorised in major thematic areas such as universities of science and technology, research, sports and creative arts, and generalised universities.

It further proposes that students who excel in sciences agriculture or technology should only get state funding if they are admitted to the university to study these courses. Should they opt to study another course outside this, they lose state funding.

“Universities should be categorised in major thematic areas such as universities of science and technology, research, sports and creative arts, and generalised universities,” reads the document.

Universities Fund acting Chief Executive Officer Milton Njuki quipped that with such a model, it is possible to establish centres of excellence and also address education needs for the visually impaired and deaf students.

If the proposals were to be adopted, the government will be required to “prioritise its resources to fund a fraction of students” admitted to the university every year.

According to Vice-Chancellors Committee chairperson Geoffrey Muluvi, the proposals came as a result of reduced funding for universities over the last couple of years.

He said that the state funding should not only be pegged on the ability of the student to attain the minimum entry grade.

“The resources cannot reach all students and funding should be based on available resources,” said Muluvi.

“Students who qualify with C+ and above but have not been qualified for government support to pursue degree programmes should then be free to either join TVET programmes, where they would be sponsored by government, or join universities as privately sponsored students, whether as Module II or in private universities,” VCs added.

The Commission for University Education (CUE) has since mapped out what would be priority courses for the universities in a bid to help these institutions align themselves to national development.

Some of the programmes listed as priority areas include Education (Arts), Education (Science), Medicine and Surgery, Medical Laboratory, Nursing, Pharmaceutical Science, Public Health, Environment and Natural Resources, Marine Science, Engineering and Law.

Others are Public Administration and Political Science, Tourism and Hospitality, Agriculture and Food Security Livestock and Fisheries, Veterinary Medicine, Manufacturing, Actuarial Science, Business, Finance, Accounting and Procurement and aviation.

However, some VCs have objected to the proposals saying that each course is a priority by its merit.

The Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Board (KUCCPS) CEO John Muraguri said that the board considers all courses to be a priority because they are vetted by CUE.