About 7 445 out of 9 457 applicants from both public and private universities have been approved for educational loans by the Higher Education Student’s Loans and Grants Board (HESLGB) in the 2016/17 academic year.
In a statement issued yesterday and signed by the board’s chairperson Geoffrey Chipungu, this year, the board is expected to spend K2 396 billion on the grants, an 89 percent increase from last year’s K1 268 billion.
The students that have qualified for the grants are from 23 public and private universities including 1 752 from Polytechnic, 1 717 from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) and 1 360 from Chanco. African University of Youth and Guidance and Counselling has two beneficiaries.
Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe expressed dissatisfaction with the figure, saying the students that have been left out, who are in excess of 2 000, will suffer.
He argued that although the board was allocated K3 billion, the figure is just on paper.
“Will revenue collectors be able to collect enough according to our estimates? These are the issues that need to be deliberated upon before university councils plan to raise fees for the students,” said Kondowe.
In a separate interview, HESLGB executive director Chris Chisoni said those left out did not qualify for the loans.
“It is not automatic that everyone who applies qualifies. Those who have been left out did not qualify, maybe because we found them not to be needy. We have our own criteria which we use to ensure these funds benefit the intended people,” he explained.
Chisoni attributed the increase in number of loan beneficiaries this year to an increased budget allocation by government.
Last year the board was allocated K1.5 billion, half of what they got this year.
As of July this year, the board had collected K27.5 million from former students from Unima and Mzuzu University (Mzuni). The money will, among others, benefit other needy students.
The board has also asked for supplementary students’ loan applications from first year students.
Last year, 4 662 students benefited from the loans, representing a 59.7 percent increase this year.