14 April 2016

Kenya: Govt Approved Foreign Campuses, Universities Say

Two public universities received consents from the Ministry of Education and the National Treasury to set up campuses in Rwanda and Tanzania.

In separate reports, the two universities insisted that by the ministries having their representatives in their councils, it was clear that the government had approved the deal.

The reports were submitted to the National Assembly's Public Investment Committee (PIC), chaired by Eldas MP Adan Keynan.

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) vice-chancellor Mabel Imbuga said the Ministry of Education was represented in a meeting that resolved to set up campuses in Rwanda and Tanzania.

Hence, she said, the decision to open the said campuses outside Kenya was done with the concurrence of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

"At the time the university operations were governed by JKUAT Act, 1994 (Repealed). Under section 15 subsection (1) of the said Act the membership of the council included (Inter alia)... ..the permanent secretary in the ministry responsible for education and the secretary of the commission," said Prof Imbuga in her submission.

Kenyatta University acting vice-chancellor Paul Wainaina in his response said both Education and Treasury ministries have representatives in the university council.

"The decision to establish Kigali campus was considered and approved at a full council meeting held on August 20, 2015.

"Similarly, a full council meeting of June 7, 2012 approved the establishment of Arusha campus in Arusha," said Prof Wainaina.

He went on: " Further, when the Rwanda Higher Commission (HEC) requested for proof of authorisation to open the Kigali campus from the government of Kenya, Kenyatta University, in a letter dated 2nd March 2016, requested for the same from the Commission for University Education and received a 'No objection response' towards the initiative, citing Universities Act No, 42 of 2012."

The National Assembly's PIC is investigating how the two public universities invested millions of shillings in setting up campuses in Rwanda and Tanzania.

This is after higher education regulator, the Commission for University Education (CUE) Chief executive officer Prof David Some denounced their investment, saying it was done against the law.

The universities insist the investment was aimed at filling the skills gap of professionals deserving higher education and generating revenues for institutions.

So far, JKUAT and KU have spent Sh450 million to set up campuses in the two countries.

Prof Imbuga said JKUAT used Sh10 million as seed capital for Arusha centre and Sh21 million for Kigali campus.

Kenyatta University spent Sh370 million in setting up a campus in Rwanda and Sh53 million for another campus in Arusha.

In the Kigali campus, Kenyatta University used Sh15 million for the acquisition of property, Sh48 million went towards partitioning and furniture, occupation permit took Sh4 million and Sh7 million was used for books and operational costs.However, the KU Rwanda campus is yet to start admitting students while the Arusha campus started operations in 2012.

Prof Imbuga said Jkuat's Arusha centre currently has 328 students and had an expected revenue of Sh40 million in 2015. Its Kigali campus has 1,822 students and revenue state of Sh190 million in the same year.

The Arusha campus was established in November 2010 while Kigali campus was established in 2012.

RWANDESE STUDENTS

Prof Wainaina said the influx of Rwandese students into Kenyatta University triggered a feasibility study by a team of KU staff in February 2015 while establishment a campus in Arusha was informed by the demand for higher education in the region.

"A feasibility study carried out in Arusha by a team of KU staff between 2008 and 2009 established that Arusha region had a total of 153 secondary schools and only three private universities and one campus of the University of Dares-Salaam. There was therefore a gap," said Prof Wainaina.

He went on: "The university also considered the Rwandan report on the skills gap of professionals deserving higher education."

Prof Imbuga, on her part said JKUAT had over the years experienced a rapid increase in student numbers due to the development of additional programmes.

"One of the strategies adopted by the university council was enhancing the revenue streams of the university, as well as adopting new revenue streams, which were to be achieved through- increase in students enrolment, lobbying government for additional funds, expansion of income-generating activities, establishment of new campuses and establishment of new programmes and products," she said.

Prof Imbuga went on: "Implementing the above strategies is what guided the university council in establishing campuses outside Kenya as this was an available opportunity, provided under the East African protocol."

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