The Uganda Higher Education Students’ Financing Board (HESFB), which disburses loans to students on behalf of the government, will spend UGX6.05 billion (US$1.7 million) in the current financial year (2021-22) to assist 1,530 beneficiary students.
The scheme funds only students admitted to programmes under Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), except for persons with disabilities, who me of their choice in terms of affirmative action policy.
Since its establishment in 2014, the Uganda Students’ Financing Scheme has benefited 12,717 students. It has disbursed funds in two phases in the current financial year and, because of COVID-19, it has also started accepting applications online only. The scheme has implemented a regional balance and gender parity for its beneficiaries.
Admissions are a requirement for an application for a loan
It is evident the government is increasing equitable access to higher education and is committed to increasing the enrolment of learners into higher education institutions, said Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the minister for primary education.
Through the students’ financing scheme, many parents and learners with financial constraints can access higher education through study loans which are empowering them to access the skills and qualifications they need to seek employment or start enterprises and then pay them back later, she said.
For the first time, 120 continuing students were also awarded loans. The total number of beneficiaries joining technical and vocational institutions as well as those joining health training institutions on diploma programmes has been increased.
The loans awarded to continuing students is a new offering and was earmarked to support students who were on the brink of dropping out, despite having reached the end of their education cycle.
Bob Nuwagira, a senior communications manager at the HESFB, told University World News this was in an effort to help students who were close to the finish line.
The attrition rates from higher institutions are high due to COVID-19. Although we got so many applications from continuing students, we decided to only give loans to final-year students because they were stuck, he said.
Nuwagira says the board has been on a journey of improving and decentralising the application modes to make them simpler and more user-friendly. For the first time, only online applications were accepted. HESFB officials say this is a simpler system that allowed applicants to use their handsets to apply.
Due to COVID-19, the HESFB conducted the loan award process in a phased manner (in lots) and extended the deadline for receipt of the loan applications for learners from some of the tertiary institutions to .
The board made the call for loan applications under the Students’ Loan Scheme on . At the end of the application window, only four public universities (Muni University, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Kabale University and Busitema University) and all 12 of the private chartered universities had completed the admission processes.
The board then extended the loan application period for Makerere University, Kyambogo University, Soroti University, Lira University, Gulu University and other tertiary institutions. The new deadline was set at . Following a request from the ministry of education and sports, the deadline for other tertiary institutions was extended further to .
Some public universities issued student admissions late, due to COVID-19, which meant that the board had to extend the deadline for receipt of the loan applications.
For the academic year 2021-22, females account for 681 (44.5%) of the beneficiaries, while males account for 849 (55.5%). The number of persons with disabilities benefiting under the scheme more than doubled to 89 this year from only 40 last year.
All applicants are subjected to a uniform scorecard which considers proxy indicators https://getbadcreditloan.com/payday-loans-nc/waynesville/ such as orphanage status, family income levels, access to medical care, parents’ occupation, previous school history, family size, and others.
The HESFB established 16 online loan application support centres in all the four regions of Uganda to help those who had challenges with access to computers and the internet
Any successful applicant who will be discovered to have falsified any detail in the application process will have their offer cancelled. Any successful loan beneficiary who does not progress academically will have their offer recalled, said Michael Wanyama, the executive director of the HESFB.