Student loan scheme: Govt targets 3,000 new beneficiaries

Feb 01, 2024

The students will be picked from across the country, bringing the total number of those who will benefit from the loan scheme to 6,180.

(New Vision/File)

Umar Kashaka
Journalist @New Vision


Parliament has heard that the Higher Education Students’ Financing Board (HESFB) is targeting 3,000 students to benefit from the latest round of Government loans in the next financial year which begins on July 1.

The students will be picked from across the country, bringing the total number of those who will benefit from the loan scheme to 6,180.

A total of 3,180 beneficiaries are already on the scheme, Patrick Isiagi Opolot, the Kachumbala County MP and chairperson of the budget committee, told the House on January 31, 2024.

He was presenting the committee report on the National Budget Framework Paper for the financial year 2024/25 to 2028/29.

However, Opolot said the committee observed that HESFB lacks enough funds to offer loans to the majority of the needy students who apply to the board for higher education funding.

“In line with parliamentary resolution of July 12, 2023, the committee was informed that only sh21.06b has been provided and the board needs sh27.8b to provide loans to a total of 6,180 students out of which 3180 will be continuing students already on the scheme while 3,000 is targeted new cohort of beneficiaries hence a funding gap of sh6.75b,” he told the House that was chaired by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa.

Guidelines say only Ugandans who have been admitted for accredited courses in institutions recognised by the National Council of Higher Education are eligible to benefit from the loan scheme.

Opolot also said the committee was informed that the board needs to undertake staff training to plug the skills gaps identified and implement its human resources development plan which requires sh0.758b.

He also said HESFB needs to improve and upgrade the integrated loan management information system. “Accounting, human resource modules, procurement and records management and ensure full functionality of the system which all requires sh0.134b,” he said.   

The committee recommended that the Ministry of Finance commits sh6.75b to enable HESFB to provide loans to the 6,180 students, sh0.758b to undertake staff training to plug the skills gaps identified and implement its human resource development plan.

It also recommended that sh0.134b be provided to enable the board to improve and upgrade its integrated loan management information system.


HESFB was established in February 2014 by an Act of Parliament with a mandate to provide loans and scholarships to Ugandan students to pursue higher education.  

Over the past nine years, a total of 13,405 students have benefited from this scheme, out of which 9,198 (68.6%) were male and only 4,207 (31.4%) females, according to the latest report for the financial year 2022/23 by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

An unidentified HESFB official was quoted in the report as saying the loan scheme’s maximum tuition fund is sh7.2m per student per annum.

However, the official said, some universities such as Uganda Christian University (UCU) charge about sh12m per year, which is above the threshold for a medicine course.

“And, hence the scheme cannot admit the students there since the courses are expensive. In addition, other universities, for example ISBAT, provide incentives to students such as meals and accommodation and hence a majority of the students from poor households mostly apply to such universities since they cannot afford to feed and accommodate themselves,” the official added.

UCU and Uganda Technical College-Kicwamba admitted only nine in the period under review by the EOC, Soroti University and Uganda Institute of Information and Communications Technology six each, while Masaka School of Comprehensive Nursing and Uganda Technical College-Kyema Masindi four each.

Other institutions that admitted the least number of beneficiaries included Bugema University, Bukalasa Agricultural College, Health Tutors College-Mulago, Medical Lab Training School-Jinja and Soroti School of Comprehensive Nursing admitted three each, while Jinja Nursing School and Ophthalmic Clinical Officers Training School two each.

Butabika School of Psychiatric Clinical Officers, Lira School of Comprehensive Nursing and Uganda Wildlife Training Institute admitted only one each.

“Out of 1,592 beneficiaries, each of these higher institutions of learning had less than 10 beneficiaries,” the EOC report said.

The report revealed that the higher institutions of learning which admitted 100 students and above were mainly private, namely Kampala International University (KIU), ISBAT University, Bishop Stuart University and Ndejje University.

KIU admitted 298, ISBAT 152 and Bishop Stuart 123. Makerere University is the only public university that admitted the highest number of beneficiaries (150) and it was followed by Kyambogo University with 123. 

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