UoN risks exodus of students over fee increase, don warns

By , People Daily Digital
Thursday, July 22nd, 2021 00:00 | 2 mins read
University of Nairobi. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Oliver Musembi

 The University of Nairobi (UoN) risks losing students to other institutions of higher learning because of its plans to increase fees.

Kenyatta University (KU) Vice Chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina said the decision by UoN to raise fees for post-graduate and parallel degree programmes students, could cause an exodus of current and prospective learners from the institution.

“We are likely to witness a scenario where students who intended to pursue those courses or want to enroll with UoN may have to join other universities that offer similar programmes at a lower cost,” said Prof Wainaina.

Although universities have the discretion to determine fees for post graduate and parallel programmes, Prof Wainaina said, UoN should have consulted other universities before effecting the fee increment.

Recently, UoN Vice Chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama announced plans to double fees for various courses, which caused an uproar from students who have vehemently opposed the decision.

Falling enrolment

Prof Kiama, however, defended the plan, saying it was necessary to ease the cash crunch brought about by a decline in student enrollment in recent years.

He clarified that the increments would only apply to new students joining the university from next month.

Noting that the current cost of pursuing some disciplines such as Medicine and Engineering was Sh400,000 per year, Prof Wainaina said this means it would jump to Sh800,000 annually, and wondered how many of the students can afford the amount.

“There is no doubt that doubling fees will have a serious impact on admissions for UoN and is likely to trigger an exodus of students to other institutions,” said Prof Wainaina.

The KU boss, however, said  his university’s Senate and Council were holding discussions on the cost of some of the programmes offered by the university with a view to reviewing charges.

But Prof Wainaina ruled out any increment of fees for undergraduate students, emphasising that any fees hike would only apply to postgraduate programmes.

“We are in discussion on reviewing the cost of our programmes, but we cannot double the fees. It will remain affordable to students,” he added.

The Ministry of Education has faulted UoN for the fees hike, noting that it would make the cost of some of the courses beyond the reach of majority of learners.

Mama Ngina University

Meanwhile, Mama Ngina University in Gatundu South, Kiambu County, is set to open its doors to the first batch of students in September.

This comes after construction and equipping of the institution, which is a constituent college of Kenyatta University, was completed.

Prof Wainaina said the university college will initially admit 90 students from the locality who will study various disciplines including environmental studies, information science and hospitality.

The project started in 2016, but it hit a snag due to lack of land, which prompted the government to transfer part of Mutomo Primary School land to the university college.

“We have been admitting students who were supposed to be housed there at the KU main campus since 2016.

But for the first time, we are going to admit them there from September. This is a milestone,” the VC told journalists at the site last week.

The college, however, lacks accommodation facilities and that the management will have to look for alternatives for learners.

Prof Wainaina also revealed that the local primary school would be transformed into a model institution and give its pupils a preference for admission in the college once they complete their secondary school education.