How will the New Kenyan University Funding Model Work?

How will the New Kenyan University Funding Model Work?

All news places have been awash with information about the new university funding model announced by President William Ruto recently. It is important to note that the new model comes amidst a financial crisis in institutions of higher learning in the country. The universities have been struggling to pay their staff, make statutory remittances and even honour their debt obligations. As such, most have been operating with very tight budgets. Does the new funding model help or worsen the situation?

Increased Government Money

The new model does not look encouraging and promising for universities. The funds that they used to get from the ex-chequer may no longer continue coming in, making it very difficult for the universities to meet their obligations. Nevertheless, there seems to be more money in the offing for the institutions. The government is set to increase the budgetary allocation for universities from 54 billion shillings to 82 billion. In the past, universities used to receive block funding from the government, based on certain criteria developed by the authorities in the old model. The new model is bound to be more student-centred, only allowing universities to receive money based on the number of students and their level of need.

Student-centred Approach

The government has proposed a student-centred model, where a four-tier system will be used to determine the level of funding a student will receive from the government. The system is established on the levels of need among the students, with the most vulnerable ones receiving the highest amount of help from government funding. The three levels of need established under this proposal are vulnerable, less vulnerable, and able. The categories will receive funding and support from the government as follows.

Level % of student population Government Scholarship Government Loan Family Contribution
Vulnerable 29% 100% - -
Less Vulnerable 53% 40% 7%
Able 38% 55% 7%

Under the new funding model, needy students will get more scholarships and fewer loans, while able students will get more loans and fewer scholarships.

The Uncertainties

A lot remains uncertain with the new funding model. First, the categorization of students into the three predetermined categories remains unclear. The criteria that shall be used in placing the students in the different cadres needs to be communicated clearly. In the past, such processes have been subjective. Therefore, there is a creeping fear that students who deserve the full scholarship may miss out in the end. Second, the existing financing gap is yet to be filled, and may be dragged along into the new financing model. As such, universities will remain in the hole that they are in currently, making it hard for them to achieve their set objectives. Finally, the question that arises is whether the government will consider a percentage higher than 29% of vulnerable students, in case the qualified students in a given year is beyond that.

As the new funding model comes into life in the next financial year, it leaves to be seen how it impacts the whole education ecosystem. The lower levels of education under government funding have found it rough to run their systems and get to churn out brilliant scholars from the education system. As a whole, the education system has suffered from poor funding approaches that have left the quality of education wanting. Hopefully, this is not another misstep in the financial space of education that could lead us into worse challenges than the ones that already exist. Given the new funding becomes effective, the education system will scale to new heights. Nonetheless, if that model fails to fix the gaps there will be more challenges than have been witnessed before.