- Some of the universities are reported to have huge debts and are unable to remit statutory deductions like the National Social Security Fund.
- Two months ago, Auditor General Nancy Gathungu declared Moi University a broke institution that cannot sustain its operations.
Public university unions have called on President William Ruto to urgently intervene and save the institutions of higher learning grappling with cash crises.
Universities Academic and Staff Union (UASU) and their counterpart Kenya Universities Staff Union (KUSU) say their members will be adversely affected if some of the institutions decide to declare redundancies.
“It's a dire situation. If something is not done urgently, we are likely to close down some universities. Our collective bargaining agreements cannot be implemented. As we speak now, some are not paying full salaries while others are paying their staff very late. This is affecting our members who have other bills to settle, UASU organising secretary Onesmus Mutio said.
Some of the universities are reported to have huge debts and are unable to remit statutory deductions like the National Social Security Fund.
Two months ago, Auditor General Nancy Gathungu declared Moi University a broke institution that cannot sustain its operations without government intervention.
Gathungu said in an audit report for the financial year 2019-2020 that the university arrears exceed assets.
“The situation is bad. The government must move with speed and restore funding to these institutions of higher learning, KUSU secretary general Charles Mukhywaya said.
“It should also stop sending qualified students to private universities because then, its sending money to those institutions at the expense of public universities."
The unions say if the government will not intervene urgently, some of the universities may have to close down, a move that will affect students.
However, Prof Herman Manyora, lecturer at the University of Nairobi, says one of the ways to ensure public universities remain afloat is by closing some of them.
"The government must bite the bullet and admit that we cannot have village schools and turn them into universities. Remember we killed some of the polytechnics and technical institutes and turned them into universities. So we have to close some universities and merge others. We have to rationalise existence of every university," Manyora said.
In a move that may cause public outcry, the unions have also urged the government to review the fees that every student pays despite the harsh economic times experienced in the country. They argue that this will provide more funding to the universities fighting to stay afloat.
“Education is a key pillar of economic growth so whether there is money or not, education cannot be neglected. If you are not able to invest in education, then try ignorance. The little the government is getting should prioritise education," Mutio said.
The union officials accused the Jubilee administration of concentrating too much on the basic education as it implemented the competency based curriculum and hence forgot higher education.
Speaking in Nakuru on September 4, 2022 before his swearing-in, President William Ruto admitted that public universities are facing financial problems and pledged to increase capitation.
"We have a national crisis in our universities and we have set out as a government that we are going to address the issue," Ruto said.
Apart from the dwindling funding from the government; reduced number of self-sponsored students, mismanagement and expansion through opening satellite campuses, have also been cited to have caused the cash crunch faced in the public universities.