As the higher learning institutions have resumed for orientation week to first year students, many especially those from poor families have remained at home expressing worry of missing out studies, because they are still unable to access loans.
And the Higher Learning Students’ Loan Board (HESLB), the main sponsor for university students in the country, says it can only provide loans to limited number of students due to resource constraints. For the past one week, would be undergraduate students to various universities in the country, have been camping outside HESLB premises in Dar es Salaam to inquire about the fate of their students’ loan application.
The ‘Daily News on Saturday’ spoke to several students in Dar es Salaam who have been admitted in various universities and who are yet to obtain loans, so that they could proceed to respective universities which have started orientation week. Many of those who spoke to this newspaper have questioned the criteria used by HESLB to disburse the loans.
They claimed there is no transparence in giving out the loans, with some claiming favouritism in the whole process. “Many of us come from poor families, we studied in public schools because our parents could not afford the luxury of private schools, but what surprises us is that despite such background I have failed to secure loans from the board,” said a student who said is coming from Masasi and is on her way to Moshi University College of Co-operative and Business Studies (MUCCoBS).
The higher learning institutions, on the other hand, have put it clear that no candidate would be allowed to register before payment of full annual fee. MUCCoBS students joining instruction form, for example, has put it clearly that students under HESLB sponsorship shall not be registered without full payment of the percentage he/she is required to pay.
There are also claims that there are cases whereby candidates from same family have applied for the loan, but only one has been successful but the other one has been left out. One candidate, who preferred anonymity charged that it came to her surprise that her sister whom they shared similar backgrounds managed to secure 98 per cent of a loan, but her application was not considered.
“I have friends from rich families who went to private schools and who did not perform better than me but have secured loans, but I missed the opportunity,” said another source. Other students said they feel like the end of the road to them as they could not imagine meeting all the costs of studies, given the fact that they come from poor families.
“Only God knows the hardships that I went through during my days in primary and secondary schools, because my parents could not pay fees in time. Now that I am about to join the university, it is obvious that the costs are very high and my parents will not afford,” said another student.
Tumaini University Deputy Provost (Academics), Prof Seth Nyagawa, said the university would not accept any student until he/she has paid the first semester’s fees. “We require a student to pay the first semester’s fees in fully,” he explained to this paper over telephone interview.
Asked for comment on whether the university was ready to receive students with problems in getting loan and give them time to sort out loans issue, Prof Nyagawa said the university would not entertain anyone reporting with empty hands. Prof Idris Kikula, the VC of the University of Dodoma (UDOM), said the university demands students to report with evidence that they have acquired loan from HESLB.
“We have already received some money from HESLB for first year students who are in the orientation week. We require the rest of students to report with evidences that they have acquired loans from HESLB, otherwise they should pay the full semester fees before they report,” he said.
The University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Vice- Chancellor (Administration), Prof Yunus Mgaya issued an advert on Friday issue of the ‘Daily News,’ saying that students should pay fees before they report for this semester. “Students were urged to pay the tuition fee in full by 29th September, 2012.
However, those who will be unable to do so are allowed to pay for a single semester which is half of the tuition fee…..,” reads the advert in part. It noted that only those who pay the fees will be allowed to process their registration and allowed to access accommodation and other university facilities and services.
The HESLB Information Officer, Mr Cosmas Mwasobwa, said that the board has placed an appeal form on its website calling for students with genuine cases to utilize the opportunity. “We have not closed the chapter in loan issuance this academic year, we have put an appeal form on our website for anyone with genuine cases to appeal,” he said.
Mr Mwasobwa said HESLB had no intention of victimizing any student, but it was faced with shortage of resources in terms of funds to meet demands. However, he could not mention how many students had applied for the loans against those who were successful.
“Our budget for this academic year is 345bn/-. We have already issued loans to 29,000 first year students. As of now we are waiting for appeals and see if we can add more students. But my worry is the limited resource in terms of fund,” he said.
He added that some students had some details missing in their application forms; the fact might have denied them access to loan. He called on the candidates to use the appeals opportunity to rectify mistakes for reconsideration.
The appeals form, however, does not mention anything about candidates who have not been considered at all for the loan application. On charges where students from similar background receive varying results when they apply for loans, Mr Mwasobwa said the board would like to get evidence of such claims, saying that the Board would recheck to see what went wrong.
By ABDULWAKIL SAIBOKO, Tanzania Daily News