The University of Nairobi (UoN) will be forced to consult all stakeholders before it can resolve to raise fees for post-graduate students, the High Court has ruled.
UoN had sought to raise fees for doctors pursuing master’s degrees, a move which Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPUD), the petitioners argued had no public participation and many Kenyans could not afford fee increment.
The High Court has stopped the University of Nairobi (UoN) management from implementing new fees for doctors pursuing master’s degrees until all stakeholders are consulted.
“In the end, there is no difficulty in holding that the 2nd Respondent violated Articles 10(2)(a) and 201 of the Constitution for failure to undertake sufficient public participation before the preparation of the Differentiated Unit Cost Criteria (DUC),” said Justice Anthony Mrima
UoN has been struggling with its finances, and a move to raise fees was a bet to ease the cash crunch.
Students pursuing medicine were to part with Ksh.3.8 million for the five-year course, up from Ksh.2.35 million, beginning August, the Business Daily reported.
For those pursuing liberal arts master’s courses like communications and MBA, the fee was increased to more than Ksh.600,000 for a two-year programme from an average of Ksh.275,000, reflecting an increase of 118 percent.
KMPDU challenged the new fee saying most of its members, who are studying medicine (pre-clinical and clinical), dentistry, and pharmacy would be affected because the fees had been raised threefold.
In the judgment, Justice Mrima said the Universities Funding Board admitted that it only consulted some stakeholders in the process of coming up with the DUC.
“Apart from the selected few, the rest of the public was not reached out. Whereas I fully agree that the stakeholders who were consulted in the process of coming up with the DUC deserved such opportunities, the nature and effect of the DUC called for a more elaborate and robust mode of involving the rest of the public,” the Judge said.
Education Cabinet Secretary Professor George Magoha Magoha warned the management of public universities against arbitrary reforms without consulting relevant government bodies.
While acknowledging that universities urgently require reforms for Kenyans to get value for their money, Magoha said the restructuring must follow due process.
Magoha said he has not delegated the mandate of reforming institutions of higher learning to university councils nor Vice Chancellors.
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Early July, UoN announced unprecedented radical reforms including the abolishment of offices, merger of functions and creation of others.
The university abolished five offices of the Deputy Vice Chancellors and replaced them by two positions of associate Vice Chancellors.
The university also abolished all colleges and reorganized all functions around faculties which have been reduced to 11 to avoid duplication and functional overreach.
The Chairperson of University Council, Professor Julia Ojiambo announced various changes on July 9 to cut down on expenditure at the facility.
Prof. Ojiambo also said the move was informed by the centrality of teaching, research and innovations functions at the core of the university’s mandate.
“To keep the boat afloat, the administrative support services will be consolidated under various functions and respective professional heads all reporting to a Chief Operating Officer (COO) who directly answers to the Vice-chancellor,” said Prof. Ojiambo.