A total of 12,780 students from 10 public universities and 12 private ones have received loans from Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB) since 2014.
Mr Micheal Wanyama, the board’s executive director, made the revelation during the launch of the students’ loan scheme at Victoria University Kampala yesterday.
Although the scheme has only been catering for science, technology, engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses since its establishment, Mr Wanyama said Art students have also been included this year.
“We largely support Sciences but we also have a small window for those who may not have done Sciences at A-Level, they can join the university to do IT,” he said.
Mr Wanyama said he is worried about the increasing number of students who have dropped out of universities due to failure to raise tuition fees.
“The education of Uganda is declining. In terms of statistics, our growth enrollment ratio has moved from about 6.2 to 6.8. Yet, according to the World Bank, it should be at 40 percent. Therefore, we brought these loans to increase access to higher education to learners,” he said.
He also said the board has faced many challenges, including failure of students to repay their loans.
“We are still engaging universities to draft something we can present to employees showing that the employer has a loan from us,” he added.
The board had in semester one this year registered Shs14.5b arrears.
According to Mr Wanyama, the loan is recoverable at the end of study period. It doubles the period that the student is at the university and a grace period of one year. Beneficiaries are supposed to be brilliant, from poor backgrounds, and have been admitted at the university or tertiary institutions.
Dr Lawrence Muganga, the Vice Chancellor of Victoria University, appreciated HESFB for the support.