Another 30,000 students to miss out on loans, Helb warns
Irene Githinji @gitshee
Some 30,000 more students joining universities and colleges during the September intake risk missing out on Government loans due to budgetary cuts.
The situation compounds an already existing challenge, which has seen another 95,000 university and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students having to make do without the loans in the current financial year owing to a shortfall in the current budget.
Shortfalls have also seen the Higher Education Loans Board forced to not only reduce on the number of beneficiaries, but also individual allocation from Sh45,000 to Sh38,000.
Helb Chief Executive Charles Ringera yesterday said the board is already running on a deficit and the number of beneficiaries could reduce further owing to a reduction in allocation for the next financial year.
“There has been an increase in the number of students who qualified to join the university compared to 2019 yet the allocations keep reducing. The pressure to fund more students is building,” said Ringera.
143,000 students qualified to join university after they scored C plus in last year’s KCSE. Ringera said not all of them will require loan intervention.
“First there was a Sh2.8 billion cut that opened a hole for us in allocating students.
For 2020/21, we had to fill in the hole but in the process, we got a further cut and the loans are also not going to perform well since Helb will not meet the target,” he said.
Ordinarily, about 80 per cent of students require some intervention and Helb will have to get into the budgeting mode as the students pick their courses.
“We will have to look at the number of applications received, how much money we have and appropriate it accordingly to the number that is very needy but definitely we will not be able to fund the entire 80 percent,” he explained.
The board has had a deficit of about Sh5 billion, this and previous financial year, which has affected funding patterns.
Last week, Ringera said that the board has lost about Sh1 billion due to Covid-19 impact on loan recoveries so in total this year, they are looking to a cut of about Sh3.2 billion.
The total budget was estimated at Sh15.5 billion but because of funding cuts in Government; the board has had to reduce the student budget by about Sh3.2 billion.
“We do not know whether there will be cuts on our budget when the next financial year, which starts on July 1, comes. We can only work with what is available,” he said.
In 2019, 125,463 were eligible for placement to degree programmes and 563,544 were eligible for placement to TVET courses at diploma, craft certificate and artisan certificate levels.
The 2020 KCSE candidates are expected to join universities and TVET institutions in September as the next academic year commences.