4 - Higher Education Finance as a Public Good in Kenya


  • Moses Oketch




Kenya, higher education finance, public good, human capital, equity, student loans



 This article discusses the transformation of the higher education financing model and how this relates to the concept of higher education as a public good in the context of Kenya. Following independence in 1963, the new Kenya government – like most countries in sub-Saharan Africa that attained independence in this period – considered the establishment of a university to be one of the symbols of a republic and of national advancement. The government valued the public role of university education during this early phase of Kenya as a sovereign nation, even when access remained highly restricted. But, equally, the private benefits of being a university graduate were evident to the Kenyan citizenry. For two decades, Kenya had only one public university – the University of Nairobi – but after 1984 the state rapidly expanded higher education, partly in response to demand. Several universities have since been established, both public and private. Concurrently, the government has pursued a cost-sharing financing model to support this rapid expansion, which is contrary to the notion of higher education as a public good to be provided free of charge. This article examines this transformation of the financing model together with higher education as a public good and concludes that each has influenced the other in Kenya’s context.