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University of Nairobi doubles tuition fees

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University of Nairobi doubles tuition fees


University of Nairobi officials

University of Nairobi council chair Julia Ojiambo, Vice-Chancellor Stephen Kiama (centre) and council member Marie Rarieya (right) during a press conference announcing changes in governance structure, July 9, 2021. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

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Summary

  • The university has increased fees for liberal arts Master’s courses like communication and MBA to more than Sh600,000 for a two-year programme from an average Sh275,000.
  • Degree courses like commerce, economics and law under the parallel plan have been increased by up to 70 percent.

The University of Nairobi (UoN) has more than doubled fees for postgraduate courses and parallel degrees to ease a cash crunch brought home by a dip in student enrolment.

The university has increased fees for liberal arts Master’s courses like communication and MBA to more than Sh600,000 for a two-year programme from an average Sh275,000, reflecting an increase of 118 percent.

Degree courses like commerce, economics and law under the parallel plan have been increased by up to 70 percent to about Sh1 million for the four years.

The new fees will apply to new students joining the university from this month, marking the first major fees review for postgraduate courses and parallel degrees in nearly two decades.

The university is betting the review will lift revenues from fees, which have dropped in recent years and pushed Kenya’s leading public university to a Sh1.4 billion loss in the year to June 2018.

UoN settled on the easier target of postgraduate and self-sponsored students after undergraduate students under State sponsorship opposed proposals by vice-chancellors to have tuition charges tripled to Sh48,000 annually.

“The fees are up and they will apply to new students. It’s part of the restructuring plan that will lift the university from losses,” said a top official at the institution who sought anonymity.

The two-year MBA course will now cost Sh602,000 from Sh280,000, excluding project fees while MA in Communication fees has increased to Sh655,000, up from Sh273, 000.

The increased postgraduate fees are nearly half what top private universities like Strathmore are charging. Fees for a Master’s in Commerce at Strathmore is Sh636,720 annually.

Students pursuing medicine at UoN will part with Sh3.8 million for the five-year course, up from Sh2.35 million. Law is charging Sh1, 020, 000 from Sh715, 500 while engineering courses will average Sh2.1 million from about Sh1 million.

The push for review of the fees comes when the drop in the number of students pursuing parallel degree courses whose tuition charges are based on market rates, has hurt university finances.

This has forced the institutions like the University of Nairobi to freeze hiring and slow down expansion plans as they struggle with huge debts.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows its enrolment declined from 98,715 in 2016 to 62,963 in 2020, reflecting a drop of 36.2 percent or 35,752 students.

Admission to public universities of nearly all high school students who score C+ (plus) and above over the past four years has reduced the pool of learners available for private universities as well as parallel degree programme students in public universities.

The lucrative parallel degree plan became the universities’ money minting machines in the 15 years to 2016 as workers used the window to raise profile in the search for new jobs and promotions.

Official data shows that the number of students pursuing Master’s and PhD courses in the year to June 2020 stood at 44,657 from 67,407 in 2016.

The drop emerged at a time companies have frozen promotions and hiring due to the economic ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic, dimming the motivation for workers to read for higher academic and professional qualifications.

PhDs and Master’s degrees are viewed by many as a ticket to promotion at the workplace and getting new jobs, pushing the enrolment to the ceiling when courses such as MBA attracted students in thousands.

Cash-strapped varsities have been promoting PhD and Master’s courses in a bid to grow their revenues in the wake of the sharp drop in the number of students pursuing the parallel degree courses.

The institution’s financial woes have been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic which led to a five-month closure and partial reopening to combat the spread of the virus.

On Friday, the University of Nairobi announced a restructuring plan in which all colleges and some offices have been abolished while some functions have been merged around faculties.

UoN sank into a Sh1.4 billion loss in the year to June 2018 after overshooting its budget and failing to raise projected revenue, says the latest audit report that showed a surplus of Sh583 million a year earlier

A report from the Auditor-General showed that the university was unable to meet financial obligations worth Sh2 billion in the year to June 2018, as the cash crisis worsened.

Critical statutory deductions such as Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax, National Social Security Fund (NSSF), National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), Higher Education Loans Board (Helb), pension and sacco deductions went unpaid, the report reveals.



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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.



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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.



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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


Cotu boss Francis Atwoli

Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.



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