The University of Nairobi (UoN), Kenya’s leading public university, has more than doubled fees for postgraduate courses and parallel degrees are it struggles to deal a cash flow problems and the related problem of falling student enrolment that has a decline from 98,715 in 2016 to 62,963 in 2020, reflecting a drop of 36.2 percent or 35,752 students*.
Meanwhile a major restructuring programme is being instituted to cut costs and streamline the UON’s governance structure.
Fees for liberal arts Master’s courses have been increased to more than Sh600,000 for a two-year programme, up from an average Sh275,000, an increase of 118 percent.
Degree courses such as commerce, economics and law have also been increased to around Sh1 million for the four years, an increase of up to 70 percent.
The new fee rates will apply to new students joining the university from this month.
The UoN is hoping the review will increase revenues from fees which have fallen in recent years leading to a Sh1.4 billion deficit in the year to June 2018.
At the same time the UoN is undertaking a major restructuring programme to help the institution cut the costs, merging many functions and creating new posts, effectively replacing almost 50 years of leadership and governance structure at the university.
As part of the UoN’s great shake up it has scrapped five Deputy Vice Chancellors offices (DVC Finance, DVC Human Resource, DVC Students Affairs, DVC Academic Affairs and DVC Research and Innovation), to be replaced with two new positions of Associate Vice Chancellor.
Colleges to be Scrapped
There is also to be a full overhaul in 24 colleges with the varsity’s management collapsing faculty functions from 35 to 11 and removing eight colleges. The colleges to be scrapped are Humanity and Social Science College, Education and External studies, Biological and Physical science, Architectural and Engineering, Health Science and Agricultural and Veterinary colleges.
All the positions of the eight principals and their deputies across six colleges have been terminated with their duties and roles given over to the new four positions of Executive and Associate Deans.
Only 14 research institutes, including Kenya AIDS Vaccination Institute (KAVI) – Institute of Clinical Research, Wangari Mathai Institute and Institute of Development Studies, have been retained.
The UON is facing a cash flow challenge following the reduced government funding and decline in the number of self-sponsored students. These factors have made it hard for the varsity to fulfill its obligations such as payroll, pension, taxes, insurance premiums for the staff.
Currently the UON is having Ksh 34 Billion as unremitted statutory deductions and the institution council does not want the situation to spiral out of hand further.
Job Losses to Hit Academic and Non-Teaching Staff
As much as there is no definite statement from UoN as to how the restructuring will affect the college and faculties employees, the reports from the varsity officials have been categorical that the University does not have money to pay staff and those not employed under the new structure will lose their jobs for both academic and non-teaching staff.
Current staff for the UoN stands at 4,000 employees with 1,500 in academic fields and 2,500 as non-teaching staffs.
It is hoped that the structural and governance reforms will address bureaucracy in decision making at the institution therefore resulting to effectiveness in the service delivery. Having a hierarchy that can bring quick decision making is one element being sort for.
The restructuring will help the varsity in saving costs incurred on payrolls. This will help manage the costs and have a greater financial discipline.
By abolishing all unnecessary layers of reporting will also enhance accountability and put resources to good use. This will remove duplication of power and redundancy.
*Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS)