1211 university students miss loans

1211 university students miss loans

Thousands of students in Malawi’s universities are not in class because they cannot afford, authorities have confirmed.

This is despite Tonse Alliance administration leaders, President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Vice-President Saulos Chilima of UTM, promising in their manifestos and on political podiums that no student would drop out of secondary school or university due to fees.

Some students from Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences have also been affected

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology spokesperson Chikondi Chimala confirmed in response to a questionnaire that in the current 2021/2022 academic year, at least  1 211 students, who applied for loans at Higher Education Students’ Grants Loans Board, have been left out.

This year 20 404 higher education students from both public and private universities who applied for loans but only 18 424 were recommended.

Loans Board acting executive director Prince Phwetekere said this is because of the high demand for the loan facility.

He said from 4 123 applicants in the academic year 2015/16  academic year when the programme started, the number of applicants rose to 21 997 in the 2021/22 academic year for both public and private universities.

Pwetekere said while the number of applicants continues to grow, loan recoveries have remained a major challenge.

He said: “However, we have intensified our recovery efforts to ensure that we recover every penny owed. Currently, we are engaging employers to assist in this exercise by deducting loan repayments from the payroll.

“We do understand that government is the major employer in the country, so we have been engaging with ministries, government departments, district councils and parastatals to lend us a hand to recover these overdue loans.”

Asked about the procedure followed to benefit from the student loans, Pwetekere said the board has a screening process.

“The screening process takes into consideration the social economic indicators that students present as they complete the application forms,” he said.

Pwetekere said the loans board received K9 billion in the 2019/20 budgetary allocation, and as of 2019/20, total loans disbursed amounted to K22.9 billion.

In the year 2022, government has provided K12 billion; and a further K2 billion would be raised from loan recoveries.

There are nine public universities and colleges and 19 private universities and colleges that benefit from the loans board grants/loans disbursements.

According to a loans board list on financing per student per academic year, one student at a public university gets an average of K420 000 for tuition and K350 000 for upkeep. This means on average, the government spends about K750 000 per student per academic year.

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