In Africa, the responsibility for funding higher education falls to a combination of the government, student families, and other sources. With the surge in demand for higher education, the African governments are not able to cover all the costs by themselves, so they are encouraging families to contribute to the expense. Unfortunately, many African countries are witnessing a sharp rise in higher education enrollment that is outpacing the available resources (World Bank, 2010). This influx of students is causing a strain on the financial sustainability of higher education. Research has shown that, out of all the regions in the world, Africa is the only one that has had a thirty percent decrease in public spending per student over the past two decades (World Bank, 2010). Kenya’s tertiary education system has seen rapid growth, with there now being a graduate to be found in every market. As reported by The Standard Media House, Dr. Ruth Wanjau, a lecturer of chemistry at Kenyatta University, has noted that the figure of registered university students has skyrocketed from just under 5,000 while she was studying to the hundreds of thousands today. In total, there are now over 495,000 university graduates. However, this dramatic increase in the number of graduates has not been mirrored in the country’s economy and job market.
In Tanzania, the situation with regard to education financing is not much different. The Higher Education Policy of 1999 and the Education and Training Policy of 2014 both direct the nation’s current approach to the matter. The policy specifically calls for higher enrollment, cost-sharing, and increased sector funding (URT, 1999). Nonetheless, the reality is not particularly impressive, with the higher education system and universities receiving inadequate government funding for their recurrent and development budgets. To deal with this, instead of depending on shrinking public support, public colleges and universities are encouraged to cultivate internal revenue. This is also a common sentiment in Kenya and Uganda. Uganda is a nation that hosts more than 30,000 graduates annually from 32 universities, and the student population is nearly 110,000. The financing of higher education is a problem in the country, and 2008/2009 Ministerial Policy Statement estimated that 104 billion UShs would be transferred to the five public universities: Makerere University (including MUBS), Mbarara, Gulu, Kyambogo, and Busitema. Furthermore, it was expected that the five universities would receive approximately 100 billion UShs from non-tax revenues, primarily tuition fees. As a result, the total income of the five universities was estimated to be over 200 billion UShs. When it comes to the government’s investment in higher education, it has usually been between 9 and 13% of the total expenditure on education in the last decade. In 2008/09, it was forecasted that 11.6% of the expenditure would be allocated to higher education.
The national conversation about higher education funding has focused on two main questions: “How can schools get more money from students?” and “How can institutions receive more government funding?” If the system is to succeed, more resources are needed, which is the point of the debate. The question then is, if the intended goals of higher education are not met, should the governments still support these institutions? The population of college students is rising, as is the number of college graduates. So why is the rate of employment going down? Professor Peter Msolla, the ex-Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Technology of Tanzania, further discussed this situation, noting that development partners view universities as disconnected from the development of African countries, seeing as the rate of unemployment has dropped significantly. The suggestion that private financing should be used to sustain the higher education sector suggests a lack of appreciation for its significance for national growth. However, some academics have argued that investments in primary and secondary education can bring greater social advantages than the individual gains typically associated with higher education(Galabawa2005; Ishengoma, 2004).
Back in 1996, the World Bank suggested that resources should be directed to basic education, private funding should be prioritized for higher education, and institutions should be urged to acquire their own funds. Additionally, an output-based financing system was recommended, along with donors targeting primary and secondary education.
The Kenya Presidential Working Party on Education also proposed that university fees for government-sponsored students be raised to KSh 52,000 per semester, which would be more than triple the current amount