A total of 1269 students have been selected as the maiden beneficiaries of Higher Education Financing under the student’s loan Scheme launched last year. They were vetted and selected out of 2109 applications from 108 districts, a list released this morning indicates.
The beneficiaries are students enrolled in 13 accredited universities which include Makerere, Islamic University in Uganda-IUIU, Kampala International University- KIU, Kyambogo University, Mbarara University of science and technology, Busitema University, Uganda Christian University, Gulu, Nkumba, Ndejje, Bugema, and Nkozi.
Kampala international University takes the biggest share with 407 students while Bugema produced the least number with nine successful applicants, the list, released by education minister Jessica Alupo indicates.
The loan scheme was introduced to increase the number of needy students accessing higher education with an allocation of UGX 5 Billion to facilitate beneficiaries mainly from science courses.
The loans cover tuition fees, functional fees, research obligations and appliances and aids for people with disability.
The facility comes with an interest rate of 7 percent implying that a recipient of Ugx 4 million each student will pay an extra Ugx 280, 000.
Professor Callisto Lochen, the chairperson of the Higher Education Students’ Financing Board says the award represents the first effort in fulfilling the government promise to fund students in higher education.
He says students from all districts except four submitted applications. The four exceptions were Amudat, Nakapiripirit, Bullisa and Buvuma.
Prof Locheng stresses that the funds will cover tuition, functional fees and research fees which will be directly transferred to the university accounts, while the funds for persons with disabilities shall be transferred to the students’ accounts.
Locheng says this will guard against misuse of the funds by students;
The chairperson says the recipients will be requested to pay 0.5 percent of the total funding applied for to the board to protect the loan from permanent indemnity; after signing loan agreements with the board, the money will them be passed to the participating universities, heads.
Jessica Alupo, the Minister of Sports and Education commits that the scheme will eventually be expanded to cover diploma, masters and PhD programmes. Also being considered are humanity disciplines.
A total of five billion has been set aside to kick start the programme. Initially, the ministry planned to start with only one thousand students. However, according to the officials, the board was able to save resources internally to increase the number to 1269.
According to Michael Wanyama, the coordinator of the higher education loan scheme, the loans have been awarded to needy students from all corners of Uganda. Wanyama said the loans would not cover retakes, urging students to read hard and attain high grades once they acquire the loans.
“For dead years, students will have to provide evidence on why they took such a decision and we shall act accordingly. Some people request for dead year based on genuine reasons,” argued Wanyama.
The Higher Education Students Financing Act, 2014 stipulates that repayment of the loan shall be charged on the income of the person who received the loan. Repayment starts a year after the beneficiary has completed studies, whether employed or not.
The Act provides for a six-month jail sentence or a fine of at most Ugx 1Million to beneficiaries who try to default after graduating.