Universities must streamline academic programmes and check staff numbers to prudently utilise State funds, the Universities Funding Board (UFB) has said. According to UFB, this will end the perennial complaints of under-funding despite the Sh36 billion allocated by the Government to public universities. “What we are saying is that universities must now assess the programmes they offer as a way of funding,” said UFB Chief Executive Officer Muthomi Njuki yesterday.
Mr Njuki said the board was concerned by the prevalent duplication of courses in different institutions with little regard given to specialisation. “Why is everyone offering a bachelor of education degree, for instance, yet there are many other critical areas that the Government has prioritised?” he said. Njuki warned that the replication of programmes meant duplication of funding and resources thus increasing the cost of teaching. “It must not be business as usual. This tendency also leads to unemployment because most students cannot find specific areas of specialisation,” he said.
Claims by universities of under-funding followed the UFB’s decision to roll out the Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) system of funding.
The new formula strictly uses student enrolment numbers and academic programmes to allocate funds. This is a stark departure from the past when every academic programme was allocated a flat rate of Sh120,000 each year. Under the 26-year-old funding formula, the Government paid a flat rate of Sh70,000 per programme per student. Students’ fees were fixed at Sh16,000, with costs of other needs such as books, food and accommodation met by the Higher Education Loans Board. But under the DUC system, all programmes have been grouped into 14 clusters and the cost of teaching is fixed. For instance, it costs Sh600,000 to train one dentist for one academic year while it costs Sh576,000 to train one student of medicine in a year. Teaching pharmacy requires Sh432,000 per student, with Arts (General) requiring a minimum of Sh144 000 every year. “Our funding formula is open, fair and transparent, and anyone can verify it. We shall kick-start a data cleaning exercise this year in readiness for next year’s funding,” said Njuki.