Members of Parliament debated the Universities (Amendment) Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 35 of 2021) and pointed an accusing finger at the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS).
Lawmakers argued that KUCCPS played a role in the current situation where public universities are facing challenges with recruitment and raising revenues.
During a Parliamentary session on Thursday, February 17, 2022, the MPs compared the current recruitment process to their heydays when public universities boasted of having the best lecturers and best facilities in the country.
The MPs argued that KUCCPS was to blame for not placing students in public institutions but they had rather shifted the focus to private universities and thus robbing government universities of the best brains in the country.
Further, the lawmakers stated that due to the insufficient number of students that public universities were getting, government funding was also not being channelled to these institutions.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa noted that KUCCPS was a problem that needed to be solved. He urged that
“We must deal with KUCCPS. Even after changing JAB the same graft that existed then persists today. Public universities have no students because KUCCPS is not placing students there.
“That is why we have so many universities in our backyards that have no students. Without students then they have no capitation from the taxpayers’ money that we allocate in this House,” Ichungwa stated.
The MP added that although public universities offer a wide array of courses they are left underfunded compared to their private counterparts.
He urged the Leader of Majority Amos Kimunya to withdraw the Bill terming it as retrogressive and unfair to the public interest.
Ruaraka MP T.J Kajwang’ also opposed the Bill arguing that private universities had become a cash cow in the country. He noted that the KUCCPS Amendment passed in 2021.
The MP stated that it used to be prestigious to go to public universities, unlike today where the attention has been shifted to private institutions.
He noted that private universities had used taxpayers money to develop these institutions and created a vacuum for public institutions.
“It is today prestigious to go to a private university. When I went to school, it was prestigious to go to public universities. Public universities benefitted from the best lecturers and best facilities. Today nobody wants to go to the University of Nairobi,” Kajwang’ stated.
“If every year we were to use the kind of money we’re pushing through the Exchequer to build a university, how many universities would we have built from 2012 up to now. There would be enough universities for our children to go,” he added.
Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni criticized the bill noting that the amendment did not have solutions for problems affecting public universities instead it was looking for solutions for the private institutes.
“Across this country we have young people being admitted at university from very poor families. What is worrying is that when they come to you
they have admissions from private universities. And the amount of money they’re expected to pay is much higher than what is being paid at the public universities.
“We should introduce a sunset clause. So that for private universities that have been enjoying money from public coffers, we know by what time that will come to an end. We don’t even audit. We have these young kids that drop out because they cannot afford money in the private sector but I’m certain the government continues to pump in money until the 4th year,” Kioni stated.