Moi varsity main campus reopens as strike ends but cash crisis persists

University council to push for higher fees, says Sh16,000 can't sustain operations

In Summary

• The main campus reopened on Monday, lecturers and workers resumed duties as unions negotiated issues that led to the strike two weeks ago.  

• Vice chancellor Isaac Kosgey reached a return-to-work deal with unions. 

Moi University VC Professor Isaac Kosgey addressing students at the medical school in Eldoret
VC Moi University VC Professor Isaac Kosgey addressing students at the medical school in Eldoret

Moi University main campus has resumed normal operations despite crippling financial problems after lecturers and workers suspended their two-week strike.

They walked out over a delayed CBA pending for two years.

The main campus reopened on Monday and vice chancellor Isaac Kosgey said talks with unions had led to a return-to-work deal.

“We are working to resolve all issues that led to the strike," Kosgey said.

Students who had been sent home have reported back.

The University Council plans to push for a fee increase from Sh16,000 a year, saying that is too little to sustain operations. It says there will be wide consultations and the law will be followed. 

There's a massive programme to cut costs, sack unnecessary staff, close some satellite campuses and generate income from commercial apple growing. 

“At a special meeting held on November 3, the Moi University Senate resolved that teaching and learning activities should resume," a statement said.

Lecturers and other staff went on strike demanding implementation of a delayed CBA and failure by the university to remit more than Sh2 billion. The university has debts of more than Sh5 billion.

Lecturers say the institution is on its deathbed and almost all operations had been disrupted by a bloated workforce and corruption.

“We have resolved to resume work while a solution is sought to issues we raised. We hope they will be resolved because we cannot work without our dues," one lecturer said.

The EACC is investigating claims of graft in the VC’s office and the presence of ghost workers on the payroll.

The VC denied claims the university had been ignoring the plight of its workers.

He said the varsity had started reducing accumulated statutory deductions and obligations with financial institutions so workers access the support they need.

Kosgey said the college had no backlog in salary payments, except for wages of some casual workers.

He asked workers to be patient as their grievances are addressed.

Chairman of the University Council, Humphrey Njuguna, last week said the university had no money to implement a new collective bargaining agreement unless the state intervenes.

“In the current position, we can't pay and we won’t pay,” the chairman said. He said the university was engaging the Ministry of Education for assistance.

The chairman has been frequently visiting the institution to monitor its revival.

The university has planned to send home some staff in a rationalisation programme to resolve financial problems including debts of more than Sh5 billion.

The university is also considering increasing fees from the current Sh16,000 yearly because the existing money is unable to sustain operations.

“We will engage all stakeholders and the government on the issue of fees which is critical," Njuguna said.

He said the crisis at the college was caused by a bloated workforce after the number of students declined from about 60,000 to less than 27,000.

The reduction followed the decision by the government to place all students with a minimum of C+ (plus) grade under its sponsored programmes, denying universities a pool of learners from which they drew parallel programme students. 

The chairman said the university had decided to take tough cost-cutting measures including retrenchments, closure of satellite campuses and outsourcing some services.

“We have to discuss with parents and other stakeholders including the Education ministry because there are facts we cannot avoid like the need to increase fees. This has to be achieved through public participation as required by law,” he said.

Njuguna said the collapse of the parallel degree programme, also known as the self-sponsored student programme, and the closure of some campuses caused the university to lose Sh5 billion in internal revenue, But the number of staff had remained the same.

“We, therefore, have to sack some employees and implement other measures to help us make some revenue,” he said.

The chairman said the council also accelerated plans for internal income-generating activities to supplement government funding.

The university will use more than 1,000 acres of its land to produce apples on commercial scale. The project is ongoing and the venture is expected to generate more than Sh80 billion in four years.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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