Kenya: What Next for Students That Have Secured University Spots?

The placement exercise for university admissions has concluded, marking a pivotal moment for 153,274 students who are now set to embark on their higher education journey. With this milestone achieved, the spotlight shifts funding. Universities Fund CEO Geoffrey Monari sheds light on the new higher education funding model providing insights into how it works, its benefits, and what students and their families can expect in terms of financial aid and support.

What necessitated introduction of the new higher education funding model by President William Ruto in May 2023?

Our universities were suffering from increasing debt. For about 35 years the model in use had not been reviewed amid the rising costs of running these institutions. The Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) model adopted block funding for universities instead of the neediness of the students. This means the rich and poor students received the same amount which does not go well with the best practice. To remedy this, the government introduced a new funding framework that is student-centred, predictable and sustainable. Additionally, the new funding model addressed inefficiencies in the old model. Now student only apply for funding when they require it which also allows us to monitor their progression.

What distinguishes the new funding model from the previous DUC system?

It is student-centred and need-based while the DUC is centered on the programme the students are pursuing. For instance, if a student is pursuing medicine based on the available funds, they are given a grant without considering their level of need. Meaning that whenever a student is rich or poor, the amount given is same. Under the new funding model, the needy students are funded more while the better-enabled ones are funded less.

How has the implementation of the new Model progressed, including the involvement of implementing partners?

There are three other implementing partners for this model namely the Higher Education Loads Board (HELB), the Kenya University Central Placement Service (KUCCPS), and the State Department of TVETS which handles students in colleges. We have all come together and centralised the placement and funding so that students can be served based on their level of need.

Who’s eligible for government scholarships under new higher education funding model and how can one apply?

The students were eligible students who have been placed by the Kenya University’s Central placement service (KUCCPS).cThose are the only students who are eligible for funding of scholarship. However, for loans, students can apply even if they went directly to a university.

How much funding has been disbursed by Government to support scholarships thus far, and how many students have benefited?

From September last year to date, we have funded 112,000 students and they have been given Sh12.4 billion.

Elaborate on how the Means Testing Instrument is used to assess students’ financial needs?

The Means Testing Instrument looks at the student’s household income, the number of dependents, the parents/guardian’s employment, disability of the student and household ownership including vehicles. This mix of variables as provided by the student are processed through a programme to determine the level of need of the applicant and thus fund them appropriately.

Elaborate more on the bands of needs that are there for the students?

We have got five bands. The first band gives students scholarships of 70% and a loan of 25%, while the household contributes 5%. In the second band students are awarded scholarships of 60%, loan of 30% while households contribute 10%. The third band scholarship of 50% loan of 30%, the household raises 20% of the cost of the program. The next one is 40% scholarships 30% loans and meaning household 30% of the cost of the program. Then the last one that is the fifth one is where we give a scholarship of 30%, 30% loans and household raises 40% of program cost.

There have been concerns raised about delays in fund disbursement and the criteria for determining the amount of funds released. How are these issues being addressed? Are there other challenges being faced?

Yes. Since we depend heavily on the exchequer who also depends on revenue from taxes and other sources delays are there. But this is something that we are working on with the Ministry of Education, which is giving us a lot of support together with the National Treasury to come up with a cash flow when we require the funds. This cash flow enables us to plan.

What message do you have for students whose aspirations for higher education are hindered by financial constraints?

I want to assure them that the government is committed to supporting them and that the application process is free. In case they are stuck in the process, they can seek assistance at Huduma Centres to fill the application forms. They should adhere to giving us the correct information to make the process smooth.

Does an applicant require a national ID to apply for scholarship?

Scholarship is not paid back, so you don’t need a national ID. For loan, the Cabinet waived the need for having a national ID for first time applicants. However as students progress to 2nd year they should update their details because they will have clocked 18 years.