The Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB) is faced with a Ugx 5 billion financial shortage, which could affect admission of new students to different universities.
The board which was set up in 2014 has been charged with providing loans and scholarships to brilliant and needy students, with the funds covering tuition fees, research and functional fees.
According to officials from the Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB), government is yet to release the funds required to facilitate new students joining the 9 public universities and selected chartered private universities in the 2017/2018 academic year.
Rev. Fr. Prof. Callisto Locheng, HESFB board chairman revealed to legislators on the committee that government is yet to release Ugx 5.6 billion required to provide loans to new students joining the nine government universities and other chartered private universities in the 2017/2018 academic year.
Locheng further revealed that Ugx 6 billion has also not been released to facilitate payments for continuing students. He said if the money is not released soon, the board will be unable to call for applications for new students to apply for the loans and scholarships.
Locheng led a team from the board before the committee to discuss the 2017/2018 financial year budget.
Michael Wanyama, the Executive Director of HESFB told the MPs that while the scheme provides funding to students for tuition and functional fees, there is no provision for accommodation and food.
Wanyama lamented that this has forced some students, especially those from extremely poor families, to drop out of school.
State Minister in charge of Higher Education, Dr. Chrysostom Muyingo told the committee that government is seeking for the money to fund the new students.
Muyingo also scoffed at concerns by some legislators, including Jacob Opolot and Joseph Ssewungu, on the unfair distribution of the loans. While the MPs said the most vulnerable districts are getting few slots compared to fairly developed areas, Muyingo said the loans are given on basis of merit.
According to statistics from the board, at least 3,799 students have so far benefited from the scheme.
In the 2014/2015 financial year, 1,201 out of 2,125 applicants were awarded the loans. In the 2015/2016 financial year, 1,273 out of 4,399 applicants were awarded while in the 2016/2017 financial year, 1,325 out of 3,762 applicants were awarded.