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New Law to Halt Govt Funding for Private Universities

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New Law to Halt Govt Funding for Private Universities

The move to cut off government funding to private universities has gained momentum with the unveiling of a new legislative proposal aimed at enforcing the ban.

Introduced by Azimio lawmaker Christopher Aseka, the Universities (Amendment) (No3) Bill of 2023 signals the formal commencement of measures that could withhold billions from private educational institutions if successfully implemented.

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Under the proposed law, Aseka, a member of the budget committee, seeks to amend the Universities Act of 2012, specifically targeting sections pertaining to the allocation of public funds to private universities and student placement procedures.

Notably, the bill aims to restrict government funding solely to public universities while also prohibiting the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) from directing students to private institutions.

Aseka stated in the bill’s memo that the primary objective is to prevent the misappropriation of public funds by private entities operating outside the regulatory framework of the Public Finance Management Act.

Furthermore, the proposed amendments would eliminate the allocation of conditional grants to private universities, thereby ensuring that government resources are exclusively channeled towards public educational institutions.

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In response to concerns regarding the equitable distribution of funds, the bill mandates the Universities Fund, in collaboration with the Cabinet Secretary, to devise transparent criteria for allocating funds exclusively to public universities. This move aims to enhance accountability and fairness in resource allocation within the higher education sector.

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Since its inception, the funding program has disbursed over Sh10 billion, averaging approximately Sh2 billion annually.

Data from KUCCPS reveals that private universities began receiving government grants during the 2016-17 academic cycle, with disbursements amounting to Sh1.56 billion in the 2017-18 financial year and Sh2.7 billion in 2020-21. As of June 2021, private institutions had collectively received grants totaling Sh8.7 billion.

The publication of the bill sets the stage for deliberations in the National Assembly, where members are expected to initiate the first reading during the upcoming session. If approved, the legislation would revoke provisions authorizing the allocation of conditional grants and loans to private universities, as well as the placement of government-sponsored students by KUCCPS.

The proposed policy shift aligns with recommendations made by the National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC), which advocated for the cessation of government funding to the 31 private universities nationwide.

Lawmakers argue that prioritizing resources for public universities, burdened by debts exceeding Sh56.1 billion, is essential to address the financial challenges facing the higher education sector.

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As discussions unfold, private universities face the prospect of significant revenue losses, potentially up to Sh500 million annually. A disbursement schedule for the fiscal year ending 2021 indicates varying amounts received by individual institutions, ranging from Sh500,000 to Sh6 million.

The proposed legislative changes reflect ongoing efforts to reform the education sector and optimize the allocation of government resources to address pressing challenges within higher education.

New Law to Halt Govt Funding for Private Universities

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