Last Updated 18 Jun 2020

Financing of University Education in Kenya

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QN) With close reference to university education in Kenya, discuss the various means of financing education and evaluate the equity implications. To answer this claim, we start by defining critical terms so as to clearly get the full meaning of this assertion. Education is the process act or process of impacting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgement, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

It can also be defined as the process of acquiring desirable skills, attitudes and knowledge, as for a profession University education means the totality of general and specialized knowledge and skills that enable a university graduate to solve problems that he encounters in industry or to perform scientific research or pedagogical work within the area of specialized knowledge that he has acquired.

Financing refer to how people allocate their assets over time and conditions of certainity and uncertainity while education financing refers to any aspect of raising and spending revenue for educational purposes. Kenya as one of the developing countries in Afrca is faced with the problem of financing its education. Despite the role of the universities in teaching, undertaking research and training of skilled manpower for economic development, public and private universities in developing countries especially those in Africa are facing financial crisis.

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Universities in Kenya gets financial aids from different sources which include; finances from parents, self finance, Banks-some banks give education loans to students or parents, cooperative societies, Constituency Development Funds[C. D. F], scholarships from educational institutions e. g universities, charitable organizations, HELB loans, Harambees, Donations, bursaries among others. Sources of educational funds are both internal and external.

Internal funds refers to finances from within the institution for example; Fees from the students, Income generating activities among others. While external funds come from outside the university for example; Religious organizations, Funds from central and local government, companies and organizations, scholarships, loans, International bodies, Non- Governmental Organization(NGO’s) etc.

Central and local government are generally the most important sources of educational finances. The government is generally the most important and crucial source of funding for university education. The government through the parliament passed a bill that seeks to introduce radical changes to higher education, establishing a Commission for University Education(C. U.

E) to be vested with wide-ranging powers as one of four new bodies running the sector in the country. The universities Act 2012 published on 24th September in Kenya gazette supplement 121 and signed by higher education, science and technology minister Margaret Kamar abolishes the decades old Commission for Higher Education(C. H. E) which has hitherto regulated the sector and replaces it with the Commission for University Education.

The universities Act 2012 stipulates that funds of a public university shall comprise: such sums as may be granted to the university by the parliament, such monies or assets as may accrue to or vest in the public university in the course of the exercise of its powers or the performance of its functions under this Act or under any other written law; and all monies from any other source provided for or donated or lent to the public university with the approval of the cabinet secretary responsible for finance and the cabinet secretary responsible for university education. this act mandates the central government to advance money to the public universities for running of the programmes and activities. The government gives grants to the public universities and this money is budgeted for, in the ministry for higher education budget and this is captured in the annual budget.

The grants are given to all universities oblivious of the programmes that they offer. The government through the parliament passed a bill that saw the creation of the Constituency Development Act that was aimed to rationalize development across the country by ensuring that all areas across Kenya had a fair share of the money set aside for development. Through the various committees established in each constituency, students in the universities are able to access bursaries to aid them in paying school fees. This bursary is given to people who are needy and who cannot afford tuition fees.

For the equal distribution of the funds, the Kenyan government is giving a lot of charters to the new mushrooming universities, this is to make sure all the regions in the country get access to higher education hence equity implications. Higher Education Loans Board(H. E. L. B) is another source of funding. H. E. L. B is a state corporation whose mandate is to source funds and provide loans, scholarships and bursaries to Kenyans studying in recognized institutions of Higher learning. It was established by an act of parliament a statute known as Higher Education Loans Board Act 1995,,and it was legally as Act number 3 of 1995. It came into existence on 21st July, 1995 through Kenya gazette supplement (CAP 213A). higher education loans board administers the student loans scheme.

The board is also empowered to recover all outstanding loans given to former university students by the government of Kenya since 1952 through Higher Education Loans Fund(HELF) and to establish a revolving fund from which funds can be drawn to lend out to needy Kenyan students pursuing higher education. The establishment of a revolving fund was expected to ease pressure on the exchequer in financing education which currently stands at 40% of the annual national budget. Its vision is to be the best preferred financier of Kenyans pursuing higher education and the mission is to provide affordable loans bursaries and scholarships to Kenyans studying in recognized institutions of higher education.

The board disburses loans to any Kenyan undergraduate students enrolled in government or self-sponsored programmes in Kenyan universities and other universities in other member states of east Africa community recognized by the Commision for higher education(CHE) The government through Higher Educations Loans Board ensures equity is maintained in acquisition of higher educaton since throough the electronic and online application of the sponsorship by the government, all needy students can apply for the loan irrespective of where they come from since the loan is granted depending on the level of need.

Besides the loan being given to only students who qualify to go to the university by getting the required cluster set by Joint Admission Board(JAB), also students who have attained the minimum entry requirements of being admitted by a university in Kenya which is a C+(plus) are able to access this grant hence allowing them to get university education through the Self-sponsored program and thus ensuring equity across the two programs. Financing of higher education in Kenya is also be done by institutions and organizations. For instance, Kenya Youth Education scholarship Fund has a mission to help needy and deserving youth with limited financial resources who display academic excellence and the desire to acquire practical skills and knowledge to enhance self reliance by pursuing higher education. The scholarship that they advance to the qualified candidates only caters for tuition and upkeep only but the cost of other accessories like personal effects is on the beneficiary.

This scholarship is mostly biased to women and the aim is to enhance equity so that the girl child can as well access higher education as their male counter parts who form a large chuck of the students in the universities. USAID is another institution that sponsors university in Kenya. Each year, it sponsors around 18 higher education scholarships to Kenyan students. These scholarship are offered to students from marginalized communities in Eastern and north Eastern regions and urban slums of Nairobi. The scholarship targets the minority muslim group. For one to qualify he or she must have attained the minimum of getting entry in university in Kenya. The aim for the cholarship is to bridge the gap that is so prevalent in these regions since most people don’t get the chance to pursue higher education because of the cultural dictates where girls are married off at an early age and where girl-child education is not treated with a lot of importance that it deserves. The effort by USAID ensures that most girls from these environments get university education and empowers. Some universities get direct offers of international and local scholarships. For instance Kenyatta university through the office of Orphans and Vulnerable students gives scholarships to total and/or partial orphans to enable them to pursue their university education with a lot of ease. The scholarship usually covers full tuition fees for students wwho are total orphans and have been admitted to Kenyatta university.

The selection is done after a careful scrutiny of documents to ascertain the level of need for the applicants. For the case of partial scholarships, the university pays 25% of the total tuition fees every year until the end of the degree program. The scholarship is given to students with proven high level of performance and genuine need for financial assistance. The university also caters for other students who have been admitted to the university and are already enrolled in one of the its programs. It gives internal butsaries to students with financial need based on the level of vulnerable students.

Also, the university awards post graduate scholarships which cover the tuition fees for masters programs. The scholarship is awarded based on higher academic performance. Many universities have followed suit and are awarding scholarships to their students. This effort helps in ensuring that as many people are able to access university education even those who come from poor and destitute backgrounds because when their tuition fees is paid for, then they find it very easy to get some money for upkeep but if they have problems of fees payment, then their education may be disrupted and may be halted.

Other organizations like UNESCO have fellowships that are offered to both students and teachers who want to pursue higher education in fields that enhance sustainable human development and foster international understanding and a culture of peace. It offers fellowships in the following thematic areas; education, natural sciences, social, human sciences, culture, communication and information. The aim is to enhance equity and access of university education since these are mostly given to students who exhibit some level of financial need and are high performers in academics.

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Financing of University Education in Kenya. (2016, Dec 21). Retrieved from

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