Let’s put more into encouraging private university investment

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Posted  Saturday, March 31   2012 at  12:23

Kenyans be proud to learn that their country is the regional hub of private universities.

The fact that in the past 30 years the number of private universities in Kenya has grown from only two in 1980 to 27 currently, speaks volumes about the entrepreneurship spirit of Kenyans.

With an enrolment of 40,000 students, private universities account for at least 20 per cent of all students who are pursuing university education.

Many factors have made private universities popular in Kenya. The increase in the number of students seeking private university education has been catalysed by the inability of public institutions to absorb all qualified school leavers.

It was estimated that by 1999, at least 30,000 students were seeking higher education abroad.

This was at a cost of whopping Ksh40 billion (close to $500 million).

Currently, more than 35,000 qualified students are locked out of subsidised higher education even with the increasingly popular self-sponsored degree programmes.

Indeed, it is private universities that have helped reduce gender and class imbalance as far as access to higher education is concerned.

The other reason why Kenyans have taken to private universities is that these institutions have managed to run on schedule.

Investment in private university education will supplement the government’s efforts in providing higher education.

These reasons explain why we must address challenges facing private university education. Key among these is funding.

The government should waive taxes on land, learning, teaching and research materials meant for provision and expansion of university education.

On their part, these institutions must invest in qualified research and teaching staff besides quality courses that will propel this region, and indeed Africa, to the next level of development.

Kenyan students and their parents must have a change of attitude towards private universities.

They must discard the erroneous belief that public universities offer superior education.

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