NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 11 – Egerton University students have resumed on-campus physical studies.
The university’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Rose Mwonya, in a communique, confirmed that after a long wait due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university finally welcomed its first-year students (2020 cohort) to campus on the first week of January 2021.
Prof. Mwonya said the students have been attending classes on the University’ss e-learning online platform.
“These students finally have an opportunity for in-person interactions with their faculty. I trust that they will find inspiration from the confines of a secure and safe campus teeming with abundant agricultural resources and amenities for their education,” she said.
The reopening of the Agricultural-focused university she however noted has been undertaken under a cloud of financial uncertainty arising from a funding gap.
In the last financial year, Egerton University she disclosed had been underfunded to the tune of Sh932. 2 million, adversely affecting its operations. It continues to rely on revenues generated from its commercial enterprises.
The underfunding gap, she added represents a capitation non-allocation for 3,822 students under the government’s Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) funding model and is almost a third of the university’s annual budget.
“This occasioned a funding gap that has kept the University reeling with a myriad of financial challenges. I have been following up this issue with the Ministry of Education in consultation with the National Treasury, and hope for a favourable resolution soon,” she assured.
She added: “Now we embark on the next phase of on-campus learning for all our students. I want to call on the spirit of resilience that has seen the University make significant progress in academics and research over the last five years as we reopen amidst an on-going global pandemic. Egerton University topped Kenyan Universities and ranked sixth in Africa in the Impact category in January 2020’s Webometrics ranking.”
Prof. Mwonya explained the achievements had been attained despite the financial challenges facing Kenyan Public Universities. For the last four years, the National Treasury decreased university capitation by an annual compounded rate of 26%. The reduction coincided with the precipitous drop in the number of self-sponsored students (SSP) which was a reliable revenue stream.
Egerton University she said, has already taken important steps to broaden its funding base, especially in the area of academic research. Over the last four years, the University has significantly expanded donor-funded research, starting with the flagship World Bank-funded Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management (CESAAM).
Total cumulative research funding over the period stands at over Sh2 billion, with 25 significant projects currently funded. These programs have been critical in maintaining Egerton University’s continued drive to remain a world-class university.
An important aspect of the University’s capacity to attract and retain funding has been the faculty’s exemplary hard work and the disciplined financial management of research funds.
The University has also revived the almost 3000 acres Ngongogeri Farm together with ARC Hotel and Lord Egerton Castle, which are managed by Egerton University Investment Management Company (EUICO) turning the enterprises to profitability after years of crippling losses and inherited debt. These enterprises should generate significant income for the university and provide practical education to students.