Students in danger of missing first year exams as varsities demand fees clearance

Prof Daniel Mugendi, chairman of the Vice Chancellors Committee and Embu University Vice Chancellor

First-year university students are staring at the possibility of missing their end of semester exams after their administrations mandated them to settle all outstanding fees before sitting the exams.

The students, who had been banking on government funding, have faced the setback as varsities react to the delayed disbursement from the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) and the University Fund Board.

Frustrated by this quagmire, the institutions declared that only students who have cleared first semester fees by the week’s end will be permitted to sit their exams.

Certain universities specified a 60 per cent fee clearance requirement by November 23 for eligibility to sit the end-of-semester examinations.

For instance, Kirinyaga University directed students to pay 60 per cent of first-semester fees by November 23 for course unit registration, with a stern warning that failure to meet this deadline would result in restricted access to university facilities.

Despite government assurances, only partial HELB loan disbursements have been made, leaving some Bachelor of Science in Computer Science students, expected to pay Ksh153,800, with just Ksh45,000 received.

Others, however, insisted that students, regardless of promised allocations, must pay the full fees to remain enrolled.

Numerous public universities, including Masinde Muliro, Masai Mara, Kisii, Maseno, Kenyatta, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Machakos, Kibabii, Dedan Kimathi and Karatina, issued similar directives of zero balance.

The universities’ stance caught parents off guard, given the government’s delayed disbursement of loans and scholarships despite earlier assurances that no student would face exclusion from public institutions due to fee-related issues.

In August, the government had instructed universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions to admit students without upfront payments, citing a transition to a new funding model.

However, the difficulty of running institutions without money has led to the current predicament.

Prof Daniel Mugendi, chairman of the Vice Chancellors Committee and Embu University Vice Chancellor (VC), acknowledged the challenging situation for first-year parents, indicating that the committee will convene to explore potential special considerations.

Prof Stephen Kiama of the University of Nairobi emphasized that, despite financial challenges, most public universities are unlikely to allow students with outstanding fees to sit end-of-year exams.

The absence of communication from the University Funds Board further adds to the confusion as the release of funding categories remain pending, complicating matters for university administrators.

By Viola Chepkemoi

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