FUNDS CHALLENGES

Litmus test for varsities as new academic year starts amid Covid

University heads are also struggling to keep the institutions financially afloat

In Summary
  • Most universities will be working on the 50 per cent attendance rule for the time being. 
  • At UoN, continuing students with exception of finalists will operate virtually for the next four weeks before they report for in-person classes on October 4.
Students at the University of Nairobi.
Students at the University of Nairobi.
Image: UoN

Universities this week resume teaching and learning amid Covid-19 and perennial financial challenges that have seen the institutions review their operation mode.

Public universities will continue with a hybrid model involving both in-person and virtual classes.

Private universities on the other hand are in favour of full resumption of in-person teaching and learning.

The model seeks to curb the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and so-called “breakthrough” infections occurring among the vaccinated, caution has also been issued to students arriving on college campuses.

Those attending in-person lectures will be required to wear masks as long as they are on campus.

In-person classes have been given to freshers who reported to school last week and finalists in all public universities.

In the University of Nairobi, continuing students with exception of finalists will operate virtually for the next four weeks before they report for in-person classes on October 4.

For medical students, and other courses with a small number of learners, the classes will also be in person.

UoN vice chancellor Stephen Kiama said the adoption of in-person classes for medical students has been necessitated by the nature of their training which involves a lot of practical activities.

In the past year, students from across public and private universities have been stuck to their computer screens for lectures.

However, end-of-semester exams will be conducted physically even for those taking online classes.

The students will end their semester towards the end of November.

Currently, the public and private university population stands at 560,000 students.

With the intake of this year’s freshmen, the population is expected to hit slightly over 600,000 students.

Most universities will be working on the 50 per cent attendance rule for the time being. 

The concern is that with the aging population of university staff, they risk contracting Covid more than any other university fraternity group.

So far, no official data has been released on the vaccination outreach of the university workforce. However, individual universities have been lobbying for the inoculation of their staffers.

However, no university has instituted a mandatory vaccination policy for its staffers yet.

Funding

Further from the pandemic, university heads are also struggling to keep the institutions financially afloat with a delicate balance between the safety of students and faculty against the need for tuition.

To partially address funding troubles, UoN in July announced that it would raise tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year, whether or not it held classes online.

UoN decision comes despite online uproar over the move.

However, Kiama said the increment will only affect new students joining the institution moving forward.

“The fee increment is not for the students who are currently in session. Those students we already have a contract with them. But for those who will join in future, you must pay the new fee guidelines,” he said.

-Edited by SKanyara