The initial drive at the conception of the idea was to provide support to the many DeKUT students who were experiencing financial difficulties. For example, in 2015, approximately 5 % of the student population suspended their studies by applying for academic leave on financial grounds, this means they do not do their examinations and lose a year. There are some who never come back after being granted leave. This is in spite of support provided by the Government of the Republic of Kenya, through the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) which caters for many students, other support such as bursaries given by some Members of Parliament from their Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and also a bursary programme from the University’s recurrent expenditure. For example, in the 2015/16 academic year, DeKUT dispersed Kshs one million as bursary to approximately 200 financially disadvantaged students, and another Kshs 800,000 through the work-study programme as aid to retain the students in their studies. There are still many bright and talented students in need of support.
The second consideration is the development of the University into a world class centre of excellence. Operation of a good university is an expensive undertaking. It requires support for top level research, investment in facilities and equipment so as to attract outstanding scholars and top students. Thus, world-over, government funding is never enough and even then it often fluctuates considerably with changing government priorities impacting negatively on the operations. It is for these reasons that great universities set up endowment funds so as to get resources from other non-government sources to invest appropriately to be able to sustainably support a university’s mandate. For example, at the end of the year 2015, Harvard University, which is often ranked the top university in the world, had an endowment fund valued at US $ 37.6 billion. In the year it disbursed as financial aid US $386 million for undergraduate and US $38 million as fellowships for graduate studies. The goal is to gradually build the endowment fund to a considerable amount in the future. The initial target is Kshs. 100 million which has been determined, on basis of current student population of 6 thousand, to be adequate for the university to retain all the needy but talented and academically gifted students in the programmes they are enrolled in.
DeKUT Endowment Fund has the following aims:
(i) To support highly talented students to pursue competitive academic programmes regardless of their financial backgrounds.
(ii) To provide bursaries to students who are financially disadvantaged but academically gifted so that they may complete their studies.
(iii) To provide fellowships and scholarships in support of research and scholarship pursuits so as to enable the University achieve her core mandate and run as a global academic centre of excellence.
(iv) To implement capital projects in accordance with both a contributors’ wishes and the University’s strategic plans for rapid development of the university.
(v) To receive and administer such other offers of awards, grants, and prizes contributed to the University in support of her mission and vision.
The University has set up structures to run this fund in line with the Universities’ Act, University Charter and the Statutes. All monetary donations to the fund are acknowledged and receipted and maintained in an independent University account. Furthermore, annual financial reports are presented to the University Council and subjected to the normal institutional audit. There is also an Endowment Office with a responsibility of overseeing the fund, liaising with and responding to the network of supports, and generating appropriate reports for University management and Council.