Varsity Student Capitation Hits Rock Bottom as Programme Nears Sunset

It seems like the funding for government-sponsored students in private universities has hit an all-time low. The numbers are in, and it’s not looking too bright. But hey, at least we can crack a few jokes while discussing this funding rollercoaster, right?

According to the University Funding (UF) data, the average capitation allocated in the last year of the programme, which ended in June 2023, was a measly Sh35,415.55. Ouch! It’s like finding a few coins under the couch when you were hoping for a treasure chest.

Now, let’s talk about the reasons behind this funding fiasco. The Exchequer, strapped for cash, has been struggling to provide significant allocations, leading to stagnant funding levels. It’s like trying to fill a swimming pool with a leaky bucket. As a result, the State has decided to end the funding arrangement altogether and opt for a new formula. State-sponsored students who choose private universities will now have to foot their own tuition costs. It’s like a game of “You’re on your own now, kiddos!”

With the drop in average capitation, private universities are facing their highest funding deficit in a financial year, amounting to a whopping Sh14.35 billion. That’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. UF chief executive Geoffrey Monari isn’t taking this sitting down. He’s following up with the Treasury, making sure the debt gets cleared. It’s like a student chasing after their missing homework assignment.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Back in June 2018, private universities were receiving an average allocation of Sh84,217.04 per student on government sponsorship. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! As enrollment increased and budgetary allocations remained stagnant, the funding amount has been on a downward spiral. It’s like watching a slow-motion race where the finish line keeps moving further away.

But fear not, dear students! The State has a new plan in store. Starting from September, scholarships, loans, and bursaries will replace the old and rather unfair capitation system. It’s like a fresh breeze blowing through the halls of academia. This new funding formula aims to ease the pressure on public universities and ensure that only students in need receive financial support from the State.

Government-sponsored students opting for private universities will now be eligible for loans offered by the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb). It’s like a financial safety net for those pursuing their dreams outside of public institutions.

Under the new model, funding will be student-centered, taking into account their levels of need. They’ll be classified into four categories: vulnerable, extremely needy, needy, and less needy. It’s like sorting students into different boxes based on their financial circumstances. Let’s hope this approach brings some much-needed fairness and support.

Private universities have been admitting State-sponsored students since 2016, hoping to relieve the overcrowding in public universities. UF data reveals that private universities have received a total of Sh15.32 billion for the 89,644 Government Sponsored Students (GSS) admitted until the end of the last financial year. It’s like a game of financial Tetris, trying to fit the puzzle pieces together.

Unfortunately, the funding allocations haven’t kept up with the sharp rise in student numbers, resulting in a significant deficit that’s causing financial strain for private universities. It’s like trying to solve an equation with missing variables.

In the past, universities received block funding based on the Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) model. The State was supposed to cover up to 80 percent of the tuition costs, with students and their families responsible for the remaining 20 percent. But now, the funding will be based on three levels of need: vulnerable, less vulnerable, and able. It’s like adjusting the lens to focus on the students who need it the most.


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