Varsity mergers: Magoha dismisses VCs

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha on Monday dismissed vice-chancellors of public universities who are opposed to the merging of their institutions in the wake of financial crises.

Prof Magoha, while addressing media practitioners in Nairobi, insisted that it is the quality of education coming out of the universities that matters and not the number of institutions.

“I was given instructions by President Kenyatta after my appointment that no more new universities. We must bring sanity in the university education sector,” Prof Magoha told the meeting.

Last month, Prof Magoha asked the Vice-chancellors to come up with a merger plan but in their proposal, they rejected the idea, saying it not a priority.

In a 60-page document submitted to Prof Magoha, the vice-chancellors of 31 public universities instead proposed that institutions to be increased to 100, saying that by 2030, close to one million students will be joining universities.

But Prof Magoha insisted that despite the Constitution providing that each county should have a university, it is not clear when that should be done, adding that it could be even after 100 years.

The Cabinet secretary also hit out at universities that have created too many administrative positions which he said are serving no purpose.

He lauded Dedan Kimathi University of Technology which he said has only one deputy vice-chancellor while some universities have up to four DVCs.

Prof Magoha also cited Oxford University which has about 38 colleges with one vice-chancellor yet it is a top university in the World.

The Cabinet secretary also regretted that universities are copy pasting courses with the intention of making money, noting that some of the institutions that were started with the intention of offering specialised courses have abandoned the endeavour.

He asked the Commission for University Education (CUE to speed up preparation of its report on the merger on universities saying it is overdue.

“CUE is not doing its job; it should not allow mounting of courses without proper human resource and infrastructures. CUE should also not allow duplication of courses in the institutions,” said Prof Magoha.

At the same time, universities have stepped up pressure on the government to have them increase fees paid by students.

In a report submitted to Prof Magoha they said the current tuition fees stands at Sh16,000 per year and is not sufficient.

“This figure has been in existence since 1989 and it is clear that it has long been overtaken by events and is grossly overdue for review,” reads the proposal.

The VCs argue that the adoption of the differentiated unit cost (DUC will provide for a clear and rational manner of funding universities for recurrent expenditure.

“The funding to a university in this case will be based on the student numbers on the one hand and nature of the programme the student is pursuing on the other hand. The DUC must, however, be distinguished from students fees. Students fees is simply the portion of the DUC that is met by the student from the student’s personal resources,” reads the proposal.

The VCs say this portion of the DUC can vary from zero to 100 percent depending on what portion of the DUC is met by other agencies including the government.

The taskforce states that in most public universities worldwide, the government funds the universities principally through grants to students, normally as a percentage of the total fees required for a particular programme.