The Higher Education Students Loans and Grants Board (HESLGB) says having uncoordinated academic calendars among local universities is draining resources in administrative functions related to loan disbursement.
HESLGB disbursement committee chairperson Henry Chingaipe said this in Lilongwe on Friday during the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Press Trust.
He said being a statutory body, the board is governed by the law which says that it can open a window for loan applications once a year but due to variations in calendars, it is impossible to follow.
Said Chingaipe: “We are supposed to look at the total number of applicants versus what we have each year to determine how we allocate the funds per college. The challenge comes in where other colleges are in the second semester of the previous year while others are in the first semester of the current year.
“In some cases there is a difference of a whole academic year meaning that we open windows for applications several times which also means the loans committee and the board will meet several times and all these are expenses.”
He said if all universities had one academic calendar, there would be one window of loan applications as well as one committee and board meeting for this purpose.
In the partnership, Press Trust has committed K200 million towards loans for 83 needy students pursuing science courses for four years.
Press Trust executive director Gibson Ngalamila said the trust will remit K50 million each year into the scheme for the 83 students who will repay the loan to the board.
He said: “Once they complete their courses and it’s time to repay the loan, the board will collect it and plough it into its fund. It’s no longer our money, that is what the MoU says.”
On his part, Press Trust trustee Moses Maliro said the trust is there to facilitate development in the country and the support to students pursuing science courses will help to drive the Malawi 2063 Agenda.
Deputy director of higher education Valentino Zimpita, who was the guest of honour, agreed with Maliro that education, especially investment in sciences, is one of the enablers of Malawi 2063 development agenda.
The 83 students, drawn from various universities, started benefiting from the partnership last year but the partnership was not officially launched due to the Covid-19 pandemic.