The government will start giving capitation funds to students pursuing diploma programmes as part of renewed efforts by the State to boost workforce capacity and address unemployment.
Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu made the announcement on Wednesday when he spoke during a ground-breaking ceremony for new tuition blocks at the Technical University of Kenya, an event that was also attended by President William Ruto.
“We want to assure those doing diploma courses because I understand they are not accessing capitation funds, that from this coming year we will be able to make available capitation funds for the diploma students,” said Machogu.
“We want the university to continue offering the technical programmes and courses that were being offered when it was a national polytechnic,” he added.
Currently, state capitation is only given to government-sponsored undergraduate students in both public and private universities as well as those admitted to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions.
In recent years, the state has increased its focus on technical training programmes in a quest to feed the labour market with craftsmen and technicians.
The announcement comes amid continued struggles by the government to fully fund the tuition costs of State-sponsored students in public and private universities, casting doubts on its ability to provide more cash.
A growing number of university students snubbing undergraduate programmes for diploma and technical courses has marked a departure from a past trend when degrees were viewed by many as a ticket for getting a job and promotion at the workplace.
To encourage uptake, the government has opened funding from Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) to students pursuing diploma programmes and those joining TVETs, a shift from the past where the loans were available only to students pursuing degree courses.
CS Machogu’s announcement comes at a time when universities have been decrying financial constraints emanating from capitation disbursement delays from the government.
Just last week, vice-chancellors from private universities threatened to stop admitting government-sponsored students citing under-funding from the Treasury.
In their argument, the varsity bosses said the current funding formula has unfairly cut the amount of money the institutions get for every government-funded student, forcing them to incur extra costs.
The government has in recent years failed to match funding to the growth of government-sponsored students, leading to a drop in the per capita allocation.
Data from University Funding (UF) shows the government currently pays for 20.79 per cent of the unit costs for government-sponsored students in private universities and 48.11 per cent of those in public universities.
University administrators have been pushing the government to allow them to increase tuition fees to ease the cash flow hitches.
The University of Nairobi hiked tuition fees for undergraduate students who were admitted last year.
Some of the universities have been compelled to sell assets such as buildings, close their satellite campuses and scrap some courses in efforts to cut operational costs.