• Tue Nov 24 2020
  • Students loan scheme to cover accommodation

Conan Businge and Geofrey Mutegeki
Journalist @ New vision


A plan is being mooted by the Higher Education Students Financing Board, commonly known as the Loan Scheme, to begin paying accommodation and meals for all beneficiaries of the programme.

Much as it is not yet clear when the move will start, the managers of the scheme are determined to handle the welfare of students, to reduce the drop-out rate attributed to non-tuition costs.

The Students' Loan Scheme started six years ago. As of today, about 6,700 students are still on this programme and some have already graduated.

This means, if approved, in a given academic year, over 6,700 students will be given welfare fees, which will include accommodation and meals. 

The Government, under this programme, also plans to start giving loans to students who are pursing master's and doctorate come next academic year. The plan is to start with 1,000 students on postgraduate programmes. 

There is also a proposal to extend the credit facility to 1,000 privately-funded students in universities and tertiary institutions, who are maybe financially stranded.

Michael Wanyama, the executive director of the scheme, said: "When it starts, students will have their accommodation and meals also catered for, on loan. Students will get loans for their tuition, functional fees, research, aids and appliances for persons with disabilities."

Wanyama made the remarks while signing an agreement to include ISBAT University to the Students Loan Scheme. There are 21 universities (nine public ones and 11 private ones) who are allowed to admit students on the scheme.

A student must have an admission letter, from these universities, before applying for the loan from the government.

Students with disabilities, unlike the rest of the students, can pursue humanities, on top of sciences. The rest of the students are only supported on condition that they pursue sciences and are admitted in an accredited university.

Currently, the Students Loan Scheme is only for students enrolled in selected universities and tertiary institutions.

Post-graduate, continuing students to benefit

At the same event also witnessed by Bossa Kizito, the scheme's loans and scholarships manager, Wanyama said 1,000 post-graduate students will be added to the scheme next year if funds are obtained.

There are also plans to allow students to join the scheme in their second, third or fourth year of study and 1,000 other slots are planned for this, according to Wanyama.

In the past, the scheme would only cater for Senior Six leavers and that of the previous year of sitting. Students who would have missed a year or those who had already started their studies, would not be allowed to apply for the scheme.

 Wanyama said: "We hope we can get more funds to be able to cater for accommodation, post-graduate students and continuing students soon." 

The Students Loan Scheme is intended to increase equitable access to higher education in Uganda and also support qualifi ed students who may not afford the cost of higher education. 

During the signing event, ISBAT's chairperson of the board, Varghese Mandamatam, was fl anked by the vice-chancellor, Col. Dr K M Matthew.

Mandamatam said joining teaching students on the scheme, "is a great move, aimed at supporting government projects and helping all students who want to join university education."

"We applaud this initiative from the government. We are optimistic that we will lend a hand in making sure it keeps growing," he noted.

Beneficiaries hit 10,000 students

In the academic year 2019/20 the Students Loan Scheme added 1,851 students onto the Student Loan Scheme, reaching the 10,000 milestone. A total of 10,041 students have benefi ted since 2014. The 10,041 beneficiaries have studied a total of 130-degree programmes and 76 undergraduate diploma courses, mainly in science, technology, engineering and maths.

The scheme was launched by President Yoweri Museveni in the 2014/2015 academic year, with 1,201 beneficiaries.