Recent developments shed light on the hurdles faced by public universities in Kenya as the government’s Higher Education Funding model encounters delays in the disbursement of scholarship funds. Consequently, universities are implementing stringent measures, requiring first-year students to settle tuition fees before participating in end-of-semester exams.
Education Cabinet Secretary, Ezekiel Machogu, introduced a notable change to the traditional requirement. Now, students must settle tuition fees before admission—an essential step for obtaining examination cards and subsequently taking tests. A directive from Machogu allowed the admission of some first-year students without upfront fee payments, deviating from the conventional protocol.
Complications arise from the delayed disbursement of scholarship funds, a crucial component of this year’s introduced Higher Education Funding model. However, continuing students remain unaffected, continuing to receive support through capitation payments.
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has emphasized the urgency of fee payment before the commencement of exams on December 6, 2023. Letters sent to students outline specific amounts due, determined by each student’s band category assigned by the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb).
Prof Daniel Mugendi, Chair of the Vice Chancellors Committee for Public Universities, confirmed Helb’s request for fee payments. However, he pointed out that Helb had not finalized the categorization of students into bands. Despite invoicing students, universities remain flexible, acknowledging the short notice. Students unable to pay will still have the opportunity to sit exams.
Universities, aiming to alleviate financial strain, actively use capitation designated for continuing students. This adaptive strategy involves shifting resources towards first-year budgets, proactively addressing challenges presented by scholarship fund disbursement delays—a graduate-level approach focusing on successful navigation of hurdles.
Charles Ringera, CEO of Helb, revealed, “We have awarded loans to a staggering 109,393 students, underscoring our unwavering commitment to the overarching theme of the new funding model—ensuring no student is left behind.” This disclosure not only highlights dedication but also signals active efforts through ongoing loan applications and persistent awards, directly addressing students’ financial needs.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic, Research, Extension, and Student Affairs at Moi University, Prof I.N Kimengi, signed a circular allowing first-year students to sit exams despite the non-issuance of examination cards. This crucial information confirms that indeed, first-year students can proceed with taking their tests.