17,000 university students risk missing study loans

Makerere University students on campus. Some university managements wanted the deadline application for the study loans extended. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The Higher Education Students Financing Board has not received applications from students in those universities.

At least 17,000 students from Makerere, Gulu and Soroti universities slated to be admitted for the 2021/2022 academic year intake are at the verge of missing out on the government study loans after the institutions failed to admit private students within the deadline.

The application for the study loans that kicked off last month ends today, something that will see the students locked out.
For one to qualify for the study loan, he or she must be admitted to the approved universities and other tertiary institutions and must be pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programmes or those approved under affirmative action.

The Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB), which is mandated to award the study loans, has not received any application from students admitted at the three universities.

Sources in the HESFB yesterday told Daily Monitor  that the three universities have not yet released the lists of privately sponsored students, and if the board does not extend the application deadline, their students will be locked out.

“The fate of students in those universities lies in the hands of the HESFB. You find that first year students from some universities such as Kabale have started studying and the board is supposed to pay their tuition,” a source said.

“But there are other universities that have not yet admitted students so the board is at the crossroads of how to serve all the students,” the source added.

Makerere admits majority of the students in the country with last year’s intake totaling to 14,500, while Gulu and Soroti universities admit between 1,000 and 1,600.

The HESFB spokesperson, Mr Bob Nuwagira, confirmed that they have not yet received any application from students in the universities in question, but added that the board is handling the issue.

“The deadline ends today and the board will communicate the way forward on whether to extend the deadline to cater for the affected students or to go with those who have applied, ”Mr Nuwagira said.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof Umar Kakumba, said they have not been able to complete the admission exercise due to the high number of students they handle.

He, however, said they are in talks with the HESFB to extend the deadline because the students are not the ones at fault.
“You know we admit students who come directly from Senior Six, diploma students, law pre-entry students and those on mature entry. Now sorting all these is not an easy task,” Prof Kakumba said.

“We are, however, at 90 percent of admitting our students and hopefully that by the end of this week, the lists will be out. We are hopeful that the deadline is extended to also cater for our students,” he added.

Prof Kakumba, said the academic registrar was handling the admissions.

The government last month asked eligible needy students to apply for study loans for the academic year 2021/2022.

The government is slated to give study loans to 1,600 needy students who want to pursue degree and diploma programmes.

The loans cover tuition, functional, and any other fees required by the learning institutions. They also cover aids and appliances for people with disabilities. Online applications officially kicked off yesterday with suitable candidates expected to demonstrate a financial need.

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