Streamline university funding model
After keeping students and parents waiting for more than three months, the government has finally disbursed Sh3.9 billion to cover scholarships for first-year students in public universities.
The release of the funds brings to Sh9.2 billion the amount of money the Government has so far released to the students under the New Higher Education Funding Model, having released Sh5.3 billion to the students through the Higher Education Loans Board in November. The government is however, yet to release funds for Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETs), leaving students and guardians anxious.
First year university students have been a bundle of nerves as the government dilly-dallied on the disbursement of the funds. President William Ruto in June launched the new university funding model, where students were to be classified according to their financial strengths with those deemed vulnerable or very needy getting 100 per cent government funding through scholarships and loans, while those deemed needy and less needy getting 93 per cent government funding with families or households paying seven per cent.
This was, however, revised and students categorised into five bands, where each student was to get between Sh40,000 to Sh60,000, graduated based on households’ strength. Under the revised model, the government secretly abandoned an earlier pledge to award the vulnerable students with a 100 per cent scholarship and instead replaced it with the new formula where the neediest cases got 70 per cent scholarships, 25 per cent loans, five per cent household fees and Sh60, 000 for upkeep.
The demerits of the new funding model, which the government says is aimed at addressing the financial crisis in public universities, besides, the inconsistencies and delays by the government have a major concern. Most universities had threatened to bar the students from sitting end of semester examinations and accessing learning facilities unless they paid the fees in full. The decision by the universities is understandable, given that most of them are in the red. The new funding model has been plagued by confusion and uncertainty, which does not provide a conducive environment for learners.
Funding students in universities and tertiary colleges is the responsibility of the government. It should, therefore, streamline the system and end the unnecessary confusion and hardships among learners, parents and the institutions.