Egerton University plans to send more than 400 employees home as it grapples with a financial crisis worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a report by the university, the institution has proposed to retrench the staff to ease the payroll burden. The decision has been approved by the university council.
“This will reduce the payroll cost by Sh38.7 million per month,” says the report.
The annual payroll cost for the university is Sh464.4 million per year.
The vice chancellor Prof Rose Mwoya said last month that the university has requested the government to consider providing Sh589.7 million to finance the exercise.
She said the university has implemented strict austerity measures to cut costs.
The institution will start paying full salaries only if the government capitation is enhanced. “From January 2021, we expect that we will be able to start paying outstanding salaries accruing since April 2020, starting with those who are retiring or leaving services for whatever reason,” she said.
According to the university, government funding has been shrinking since 2015.
The Universities Academic Staff Union Secretary General Constantine Wasonga has written to the university demanding the payment of academic staff salaries as indicated in the 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
Dr Wasonga said, while the report plainly describes the financial challenges faced by the university, it neither presents a credible strategy to move the university out of its current financial predicaments nor a useful proposal to pay the balance of unpaid staff salaries.
According to the report, the university has no source of funding except from students who are now out of session due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
The report shows that regular students pay only Sh16,000 per year in tuition fees.
“The report does not explain why the fee collection is declining and there is no data or evidence given to support this,” he said.
The report indicates that the university is only able to internally generate revenue when students are in session on campus and that since closure in March, it has been impossible to generate revenue.
Dr Wasonga dismissed the argument that the pandemic has hurt Egerton University more than it has other universities.
He said other universities have continued to offer learning through innovative mechanisms and are collecting fees from students.
“The university should offer credible workable acceptable and creative proposals to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, no academic jobs should be lost, “he said