• Private varsities such as Nazarene University, St Paul's University, Kenya Methodist, and KCA, are accused of charging over Sh20,000 per semester.
• In June, the National Treasury proposed a Sh23.2 billion increase in the 2021-22 budget to fund government-sponsored students in public and private universities.
Private universities have been accused of charging excessive fees to government-sponsored students.
A petition before the Education Committee in Parliament accuses various private universities of charging higher fees than recommended by the state.
The government has set fees paid by government-sponsored students at Sh16,000.
However, according to the petition, the Catholic University of Eastern Africa seeks Sh24,000 as fees from government-sponsored students.
Other universities accused of flouting the set fees include Nazarene University, St Paul's University, Kenya Methodist, and KCA, charging over Sh20,000 per semester.
Since 2016 when the system was introduced, the private universities have enrolled 47,548 students.
In some private universities, government-sponsored students constitute up to 50 per cent of the student population.
Just like in public universities, the state funds the students based on the courses they take. The formula is called the differentiated unit cost.
Under the formula, science courses get higher funding compared to arts and business courses.
The student is expected to top up Sh16,000 annually for fees.
"Despite there being set fees for government-sponsored students, the institutions continue to charge more," the petition reads.
Consequently, some students miss their transcripts due to fee balances, the petition notes.
"Some students have had to defer due to missing examinations and in other scenarios dropped out due to fees problems," it reads.
The petition says the government has abandoned the state-sponsored students in the institutions.
In June, the National Treasury proposed a Sh23.2 billion increase in the 2021-22 budget to fund government-sponsored students in public and private universities.
The institutions will get Sh61 billion, up from Sh41 billion allocated in the 2020-21 financial year.
This is a 53 per cent increase from the previous year. It seems to be the first step towards fixing the universities' dire financial situation.
Private universities are set to get Sh5.6 billion, up from Sh2.4 billion.
In seeking increased funding, Kenya Association of Private Universities chairman Mumo Kisau faulted the funding model.
He said the number of students sent to the institutions had increased over the years, but the money allocated remained the same.
The government first sent government-sponsored students to private universities in 2016 and agreed it would send Sh70,000 for each student.
“Over the years, the number of students has increased, but the amount sent to the institutions remained constant, making the programme hard to maintain,” Kisau said.
(Edited by Bilha Makokha)