University students urge MPs to reject plan to reduce HELB budget by KSh3.7 billion

University students urge MPs to reject plan to reduce HELB budget by KSh3.7 billion

University students have strongly opposed the proposal to reduce by KSh3.7 billion budget allocation to the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) for the upcoming financial year, even as debate on the Finance Bill rages on.

Through the Kenya Universities Students’ Organization (KUSO), the students are worried that thousands of needy students might be forced to drop out of school or differ their respective courses if HELB budget is interfered with negatively.

KUSO laments that around 140,000 students failed to receive HELB funds in 2023 due to budget cuts, ruing that the number is likely to increase considerably if the decision is upheld.

‘HELB Budget should be increased’

In a memorandum sent to MP Kimani Kuria, who is the chairperson of Finance and National Planning Committee of the National Assembly, KUSO President Antony Manyara urged that HELB funding should only be maintained at the same amount as previous financial year, or increased.

This, KUSO says, will ensure that all deserving students receive financial support through higher education.

“We urge the National Assembly to reject the proposed reduction and support measure that enhances access to higher education for all deserving students,” KUSO’s memorandum — drafted by Public Interest Litigation lawyer John Wangai — read in part.

With the ongoing public participation on the Finance Bill 2024 by the National Assembly, KUSO further submitted that the proposed budget cuts towards HELB contradicts constitutional provisions, statutory requirements, international treaties and national development agendas.

“Reducing funding for HELB restricts access to higher education for the financially disadvantaged, further entrenching poverty and inequality.”

The Bill continues to elicit mixed reactions from Kenyans as the public participation stage draws to a close on May 25th.

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