Kenya’s universities are starring at financial crisis as incomes from fee-paying students decline following reforms introduced in national examinations last year, an international conference heard Wednesday.
Public universities have been depending on fees from parallel degree programmes while private universities largely generate their revenues from the fees. But this is going to drop dramatically this year as number of applicants go down.
Consequently, the universities have to seek new modes of funding to keep themselves afloat as traditional revenue streams run dry.
A Moi University lecturer, Charles Nyandusi said the changes in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) had drastically reduced the number of university qualifiers, all of whom are now assured of government sponsorship, hence cutting the numbers of those going for parallel degree programmes or joining private universities.
“The advantage is that universities will no longer have to struggle with bulging classes, but they have to contend with reduced incomes from fee-paying students,” he said.
“The universities must therefore think differently to generate new funds to survive.”
Mr Nyandusi was speaking at the ongoing conference of the African Association of Universities in Accra, Ghana, and called on universities to shift focus to collaborative research and innovation to attract funds from the industry and international research organisations.
Last year, Education Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i introduced stringent measures in national exams to curb erstwhile rampant cheating and the outcome was that the number of candidates scoring inordinately high marks, as before, dropped remarkably.
About 89,000 candidates scored grades C+ and above last year, the minimum entry point for university, compared to 169,000 in 2015.
The qualifiers are just about the number of students the universities can admit in any given year. For the 2015 cohort, the universities admitted about 85,000, leaving nearly half of the qualifiers, who then joined parallel degree programmes in public and private universities.
However, this presents a challenge to the universities to think more creatively and innovatively to generate resources, said Mr Nyandusi.
Meanwhile, Kenyatta University has been selected to host the inaugural postgraduate degree programme on regional integration.
The masters’ degree in regional integration will admit students from the Comesa countries and is supported by the African Capacity Building Foundation.
Dr Folasade Ayonrinde, the head of the Foundation in West Africa, said the programme aimed at supporting African countries to entrench regional integration.
The university was selected on the basis of strong tradition on open and distance learning, earlier pioneered by the virtual university initiative.