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300 Polytechnic students in fix

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By Jameson Chauluka:

About 300 students at University of Malawi’s constituent college, The Polytechnic, risk not sitting their end-of-year examinations due to fees balance.

The Polytechnic Dean of Students, Luciano Ndalama, confirmed the development, saying the loans which most of the affected students got from the Higher Education Students Loans and Grants Board (HESLGB) were not enough to pay the fees.

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Ndalama said the students undertook to pay the balance but it is clear that they do not have capacity.

“It’s unfortunate that the students have worked hard the entire year and, just as they are about to sit their examinations, it emerges that they may not sit the examinations. At first, there were over 350 of them but, over time, some of them have raised the money,” he said.

Japhet Nthala, Polytechnic Students Union President, said he, in vain, presented names of the affected students to HESLGB for consideration.

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“The problem is that these uncertainties of whether the students will sit the examinations or not are affecting their preparations. In our [academic] calendar, this week is called grace week when students study hard in preparation for the examinations. But how do you prepare when you are not sure whether you will sit the examinations. This is unfortunate,” he said.

HESLGB Executive Director, Chris Chisoni, said the board has a contractual agreement with the affected students to top up the balance, hence failing to do so is breaching the agreement.

“After screening the students, we established that some of them had the ability to raise something to top up the fees. Before they got the money, they signed that, indeed, they would raise the remaining money, So, for them to come back and say they cannot, is a breach of contract,” he said.

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