African Universities Must Rethink Financing Models to Stay Afloat

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Increasing competition for students following an explosion of private universities also means that brick and mortar expansion of facilities to host more learners is no longer viable as enrollment is uncertain. Moreover, building a modern vibrant university that meets the needs of the highly digitized world requires immense resources. Wake-up call However much it gets from the Exchequer and tuition charges, it will not be enough for the varied requirements of a university that keeps pace with the ever changing technologies.

However, the current rough patch is a wake-up call that we need to go back to the drawing board as far as the financing models for our universities is concerned. There is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the diverse opportunities that universities can explore to generate the needed resources. We need to look at the successful models adopted by hugely successful universities in the West such as Harvard, Massachusetts and Yale. I have visited these globally reputable institutions and carefully studied their sources of income and I realized that we have quite a lot to learn from them.

These institutions do not rely on funding from the federal government. Huge shares of their resources are generated through innovative internal mechanisms. They have diversified revenue streams, the main one being research. Academic purposes The research is not merely for academic purposes but is geared towards generating products that address the society’s challenges.

This has enabled them to cultivate strong linkages with the corporate world as big companies seek innovative products for an edge in the competitive marketplace. They have also created endowment funds. Revenue generated from research, consultancy, innovations and investments, among others, is kept in safe custody for a rainy day. Much as I commend the Ministry of Education for establishing the Universities Funding Board, our institutions must begin to seriously grapple with the challenges of broadening their revenue streams.

The writer is the founder and chairman of Mount Kenya University (MKU)

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