The Higher Education Students’ Financing Board (HESFB) yesterday awarded study loans to at least 1,834 needy but brilliant students to pursue diploma and undergraduate courses this academic year 2019/20.
This is the sixth cohort of beneficiaries since the loan scheme’s inception in 2014. Beneficiaries reduced from 2,943 in 2018/19 to 1,834 this year. Of the 1,834 beneficiaries, 1,464 will undertake undergraduate courses and 370, diplomas. More males, about 1,216 got loans this year compared to 618 females.
About 7,310 students applied for loans with females constituting only 1,191. HESFB executive director Michael Wanyama noted that while female applicants are still low, the board has achieved the female successful loan award rate of 34 per cent this academic year.
“The 30 per cent affirmative action towards females has been achieved and exceeded for the second time since academic year 2015/16 when we achieved only 32 per cent on female loan awards,” Wanyama said.
Commenting on the low intake of students, Wanyama attributed it to more rejected applications at 1,399.
“The demand for the loans is real but our budget is still tight. We continue to receive applications from students outside the eligibility criteria; continuing students, Master’s and Certificate applicants, late submissions, non- approved programmes and those applying for programmes costed above the approved cost ceiling,” Wanyama said.
Since 2014, the board has awarded loans to 10,024 students. While announcing the successful students at Uganda Media Centre, the state minister for Higher Education, John C Muyingo, urged students to willingly repay the loans to help create a revolving fund for other needy people.
“This is a debt that you should be ready to pay back. Don’t wait for security and board officials to run after you because it is evident that there are more needy but brilliant students,” Muyingo said.
He added that with more funds, government will sponsor Master’s and PhD students as well as continuing students since the loan targets only first year students. At least 1,700 students in the first cohort have completed their studies and the one-year grace period given to loanees to reorganize, settle or transit to working life.
Wanyama said the board has so far collected Shs 100m through voluntary repayments but projects to collect Shs 150m this financial year 2019/2020. Student loans cover tuition, functional and research fees and Aids and Appliances for PWDs all payable directly to institutions.
UNIVERSITY, REGIONAL DISTRIBUTION
HESFB chairperson Prof Callisto Locheng said all applicants were subjected to a uniform score card, which considers proxy indicators to arrive at the lending decision.
“Specific provisions have been made to ensure regional balance through affirmative action for Northern Uganda. We did not get applications from two districts; Amudat and Nabilatuk and this calls for more efforts for students in the North to participate in the process,” Loceng said.
The Western region has dominated with the highest number of beneficiaries at 702 out of the 2,120 applicants. It is followed by Central at 455, Eastern 452 and Northern with 225 beneficiaries. Meanwhile, there are 11 public and nine private chartered universities and 36 Other Tertiary Institutions participating in the scheme.
Makerere University moved from second position last year to top the table with 327 beneficiaries. It is followed by Kyambogo with 294, Bishop Stuart (183), Mbarara University of Science & Technology (174), and Busitema (139). Newly established Soroti University got its first beneficiary out of the four applicants.
According to Loceng, students with disabilities can pursue both Science and Humanity programmes. This year, four students with disabilities got loans on affirmative action.
Frank Kijjambu will pursue a Bachelor of Laws at Makerere University, Phemia Nuwasiima will study a Bachelor of Arts with Education at Bishop Stuart University, Andrew Simon Wandera and Ronny Cherop will both go to Kyambogo to study BSc Accounting and Finance and BA Economics respectively.