• The courses remain the most expensive for those furthering their education to masters and PhD levels
• Economics, philosophy, sociology, literature, political science and linguistics sit are the cheapest courses, according to government data
Medicine, dentistry and pharmacy are the most expensive courses students pursue in Kenyan public universities, data from the government reveals.
In popularity, education and business administration are the most sought after courses and take almost half the population of students admitted.
The government plans to review the three-year-old funding model — Differentiated Unit Cost— to fill gaps identified in financing universities.
Data from the University Funding Board shows that it spends the highest to sponsor students in programmes that need slightly above
Sh500,000 annually to at undergraduate level.
The courses remain the most expensive for those furthering their education to masters and PhD levels.
Medicine and dentistry are the most expensive courses, each estimated to cost Sh720,000 annually.
Veterinary medicine and pharmacy come third and fourth and need at least Sh564,000 and 504,000 to run each year.
Medical courses not only attract the highest funding but are also the most demanding in admission qualifications.
Economics, philosophy, sociology, literature, political science and linguistics are the cheapest courses, demanding Sh144,000 annually.
The Commission for University Education statistics show that the courses attract less than one per cent of total university enrollment.
Engineering courses attract a low number of students with only 0.41 per cent making up the current enrollment.
Engineering, architecture, agriculture, nutrition, environment and technology courses also attract huge resources placing them right below medicine.
Architecture and engineering studies are estimated to cost students Sh360,000 annually to run.
Agriculture, nutrition, environment and technology studies fall under one category and need Sh324,000.
Business, law and education (Arts) require an estimated Sh216,000 a year.
Manufacturing courses attract a small number of students, currently accounting for only 0.14 per cent of the student population.
In funding university education, the government pays 80 per cent of the cost to run a course while the remaining is footed by the students.
However, the government is in the process of reviewing this funding model to cater for gaps identified in the three years it has been in operation.
The proposal seeks to revise the amount of government allocation to students.
This will cater for the increasing cost of training occasioned by inflation.
The government in 2017 adopted the Differentiated Unit Cost funding model where each learner is financed on the basis of the course they pursue.
The cost is less the amount used to pay lecturers who teach the courses and the facilities.
The approach replaced the previous model which provided a flat rate for each learner regardless of the course pursued.
University Funding Board director Milton Njuki said the model is being reviewed to cater for variables such as inflation, funding for newly established universities, funding for postgraduate studies and special needs education.
“Funding model must also create a balance between access, equity and relevance for sustainability. It should also reinforce effectiveness and efficiency in internal operations of the universities,” Njuki told the Star.
Upon review, universities could get increased funding to match the increased cost of living and training over time.
“We are in discussions with stakeholders on the best way to implement the cost adjustment rate and after how long it will be done,” Njuki said.
Unions say the universities remain underfunded and the estimated cost of running a programme is way below the actual cost.
University and Academic Staff Union secretary general Constantine Wasonga lauded the proposal terming it long overdue.
“This is what we have been talking about. It is a great step the government plans to take but should also look into the fees paid by learners in university that have not been reviewed since 1989,” Wasonga said.
Similar remarks were expressed by Kenya University Staff Union secretary general Charles Mukhwana who called for speedy implementation of the review.
“Times are changing and the ministry has for a long time ignored, this thus hurting service delivery at universities,” Mukhwana said.
“The reviews should be put in place soonest and ensure the first review puts the funding at par with the current inflation level.”