Unpaid KES31.4 billion to private universities derails collection of graduation certificates

The Government of Kenya owes private universities KES31.4 billion in unpaid bills for training under the previous students’ placement model.

According to the Kenya Association of Private Universities, the money has accumulated from 2018/19 to 2021/22. KES3.8 billion was accrued in year 2018/19, while KES6.1 billion was accrued in year 2019/2020. The GoK ought to have paid private universities KES9.3 billion in year 2020/21, while in 2021/22, the figure was KES12.01 billion.

Subsequently, the universities under the umbrella body Kenya Association of Private Universities (KAPU) have withheld certificates for students who have graduated as negotiations for release of funds continue. KAPU has written to Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu seeking a solution.

“It is difficult to apply for jobs. You can go through all the stages of an interview but when it gets to presenting your certificates, you have got nothing…it is unfair on us,” Barrington Gesimba, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Science from Daystar University in 2023 is quoted by ‘Daily Nation’ as saying.

Besides this unpaid KES31.4 billion, private universities also want the government to increase the funds allocated to students in 2024/25. Though the placement of students into private universities was discontinued, the continuing students are still entitled to receive funding under the Differentiated Unit Costs (DUC) scheme.

According to the Budget Policy Statement, private universities will receive only KES1,774,791,604 in 2024/25, which translates to a DUC of 10.12%. “This is very low since many programmes are very costly and private universities are struggling to educate government-sponsored students,” Prof. Washington Okeyo, KAPU treasurer says. “It is therefore important that the amount allocated for this financial year be enhanced to 30% DUC to private universities.”

Universities Fund Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Monari has confirmed this KES31.4 billion owed to private universities with the Treasurys Pending Bills Verification Committee.

Mount Kenya University is a member of KAPU. During the August 2023 graduation ceremony, its founder and chairman Prof. Simon Gicharu announced a KES80 million waiver for past students whose certificates had been withheld due to unpaid storage fees, library arrears, and late return of graduation gowns.

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