Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has set out tasks he wants done immediately in the higher education sector.
Matiang’i told this to The Star in his office before attending a closed-door consultative meeting with chairpersons of Councils, Vice Chancellors of Public Universities and Principals of University Constituent Colleges on Monday at the Commission for University Education.
The new CS said that he expects the completion of a Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) where funding to universities will consider the expensive courses to those that are inexpensive before end year.
The Universities Act 2012 gave birth to the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service -Kuccps and the Commission for University Education. But there still remains the establishment of the Universities Funding Board which will enable the funding of universities based on the DUC and develop a criteria on how universities will be funded by government. The board will also allow government-sponsored students placed in private universities by Kuccps.
The delay to establish this board has forced students wishing to join private universities to continue applying to respective private universities. Matiang’i said he will be meeting with National Treasury CS Henry Rotich to finalise the setting up of the Universities Funding Board. “I want this board established before Christmas so that students fully benefit from university education,” Matiang’i said.
The current funding to universities is uniform, based on the number of students enrolled irrespective of the type of course taken. The DUC will bring about equity in students funding. The new system will see students taking courses like medicine, engineering, actuarial science, dentistry get more funding than their counterparts majoring in humanities and other art-based disciplines. Lecturers in public university will also have to be paid based on the courses they teach but not job groups.
Commission for University Education CEO Prof David Some says public universities will set their own unit costs based on its unique programmes but the maximum unit cost will be determined by the funding board, which will also come up with a more accurate criteria to be used.
“The system we are using now does not differentiate between expensive and inexpensive programmes,” Prof Some said and added that the uniform system of funding leaves public universities with relatively expensive programmes under-funded as compared to those with relatively less costly programmes.
The CS at the same time said he will insist that recruitment of five persons to sit on public universities councils be done in a competitive manner.