The Higher Education Students’ Financing Board (HESFB) has asked for an extra Shs 1.5bn from government to enable them sponsor students pursuing the Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD).
Michael Wanyama, the HESFB executive director, said most universities have no residential PhD lecturers, which poses a challenge to advancing education beyond graduate studies.
“We have tabled [the request] to the government ... this was after we realized that most universities don’t have resident PhD lecturers,” he said.
Wanyama added that the board was also considering increasing students at graduate and diploma levels.
“The scheme is meant to increase the participation of students in higher institutions of learning. Currently, Uganda’s ratio stands at 6.2 per cent compared to the recommended 40 per cent; so, we [need to] increase the figures,” he said.
Wanyama explained that universities and tertiary institutions admit around 50,000 students, and only 5,000 get government sponsorship, leaving the rest to join private sponsorship. Most of these are in dire need of financial assistance.
“The board has to increase the numbers every year ... in the next five years, we will be giving loans to 10,000 students per year because the need for the loans is on the increase,” he said.
Wanyama explained that in the 2015/16 intake, HESFB had 200 diploma students and in the 2016/17 HESFB is going to increase the number of diploma students’ sponsorship to 500.
“For the tertiary and diploma students, Uganda does not have enough people to do the real work or hands-on; for instance in medicine, one graduate needs six assistants to do the real work that is why we brought in diploma courses,” he said.
Despite public skepticism, Wanyama said the HESFB would track its students to ensure they repay the loans.
“The law states that on employment of any new person, the company should write to the board; this will help us in the tracking purposes and it is from the employers that we will get our money,” he said.
He added, “Bank of Uganda (BoU) has allowed us to register the [creditors] on the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) and anyone who doesn’t pay back in future will fail to get a loan from a bank.”
The board is also in discussions with the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), National Social Security Fund (NSSF), to find more ways of sharing information to ensure students are properly tracked after graduation.