The Higher Education Students’ Loans and Grants Board has given former student loan beneficiaries from the University of Malawi (Unima) and Mzuzu University (Mzuni) a one year ultimatum to pay
back the loan they acquired during their time of study at the universities.
The university has intensified efforts to recover up to K1.7 billion matured loans acquired by the former student beneficiaries from 1985 to 2012 in order to make the scheme viable, evolving and sustainable to meet the ever increasing demand for support by needy and deserving students in the country’s institutions of higher learning.
Speaking to participants to the Institute of People Management Malawi (IPMM) continuing professional development workshop in Blantyre Friday, the board’s executive director Chris Chisoni pleaded with managers from both public and private institutions to support the board by tracking down the former student beneficiaries employed in their institutions.
Chisoni warned that after April 2017, employers who fail to disclose the existence of the former beneficiaries under their employment will attract a penalty fee of K1 million for each employee.
“We have given a grace period of March 2016 to April 2017, taking into consideration that there were no proper guidelines for recovery at the beginning of the process. We expect employers to collaborate with us in this by giving us the names,” said Chisoni.
The board’s director of loans Emma Tambala said plans are underway to meet with officials from governments Human Resources Department to strategies on how the board can smoothly recover the loans from public institutions which is the highest employer.
Explained Tambala: “We are committed to recovering everything that government is owned, some have suggested that the money be deducted from salary but we are still discussing.”
She said the board is under pressure to support up to 7000 needy and deserving students but it has only managed to support about 4670.
In the 2015/16 budget the board received an allocation of K1.5 billion and it has used 85 percent of the amount (K1.257 billion) to support students and the remaining 15 percent (K225 million) for setting up a secretariat.
Commenting on the matter, IPMM secretary general Michael Ndaferankhande said as an institution that works with the management from different institutions, it will support the initiative by ensuring that its members cooperate with the board.
Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) executive director Dalitso Nkunika said it is imperative that the former student beneficiaries pay back the loan to enable the board support the needy students now for the sake of the future.