At least 600 public university students are facing financial challenges, some have withdrawn and others may not sit examinations due to failure to pay tuition fees, The Daily Times can reveal.
The figure, which we have collected from student body presidents, is for the 2021-22 academic year and excludes students that are struggling to source money for accommodation and meals.
Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (Mubas) has 234 unregistered students, 31 students withdrew from the University of Malawi while 134 could not continue with their studies this year and have reserved their places.
Nevertheless, Malawi University of Science and Technology Students Union President James Kalawa said, at first, there were 100 unregistered students, “but management has considered some; that means the number is less than 100 now”.
Kamuzu University of Health Sciences Students Union President Pascal Chipewa said 91 students have already withdrawn from school on financial grounds.
Mubas Students Union President Franklin Kadewere indicated that those that have not registered have various reasons.
“Some were not lucky to benefit from the Higher Education Students Loans Board and Grants (HESLGB) while others are repeating classes.
“The loans board has a policy that does not allow those repeating to get grants or loans,” Kadewere said.
He added that the university had a policy to the effect that student who owe the institution money cannot register, let alone sit end-of-year examinations.
Education Ministry spokesperson Chikondi Chimala said the government knew that there were some needy students in the country.
“So, if anyone asks about what the government has done [about the situation], the answer is that it has established the loans board to provide that support.
“There are other private initiatives; recently, we had Prophet Shepherd Bushiri who came forward to assist the students,” Chimala said.
He asked other well-wishers to support the needy students.
On January 19 this year, Parliament’s Committee on Education, Science and Technology summoned HESLGB, Ministry of Education and public universities students’ representatives to Parliament Building in Lilongwe.
This was after the students penned committee members on the need to reach out to financially constrained students.
Beneficiaries of HESLGB grants and loans have been receiving K100,000 per four-month semester, which, they argue, is not enough for rentals and food.
In the 2021-22 academic year, the board shortlisted 20,786 students who qualified to receive school loans for accommodation and tuition. The money will be repaid after the students are done with school.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.