10 November 2017

Tanzania: Admit Students or Risk Deregistration, Institutions Warned

THE government has directed all institutions of higher learning to admit students who had secured loans, warning that it would not hesitate to de-register the ones that sought to bar those who wouldn't have admission fees.

The directive, issued through the education sector ministry, has been prompted by an outcry from students, the public and lawmakers, over public and private universities predicating admission to payment of the fees.

It was communicated in the National Assembly yesterday by the Minister for Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training. She explained that accusations of bureaucratic tendencies, whose consequence would be to lock out legitimate students, had been levelled against institutions that included the universities of Dodoma and Sokoine.

Prof Ndalichako also reprimanded institutions such as Mwenge University, which had initially accepted applications from potential students, but were now claiming that they were full.

According to figures presented in the National Assembly, at least 63,737 students (39,779 men and 24,958 females) were registered by the Tanzania Commission for Universities to join the 2018/19 academic year.

She explained that the figure was an outcome of thorough screening of applicants for pursuing various courses in various institutions.

"Traditionally, TCU undertook the student registration process in one sweep, but was now doing so in three phases; a system that has turned out to be good since it empowers students to individually select courses of their choice," the minister further explained.

With over 60,000 students securing admission into higher learning institutions, the government said it was ready to give loans to 30,000 students. The figure is nearly half the number of those enrolled in universities.

On the confusion that resulted in some students demonstrating at the HESLB head office in Dar es Salaam recently, the minister said it was prompted from some students having multiple admissions in either institutions or courses.

"Some students had initially applied for a particular course at a given institution, but later switched to a different one. We requested all students to confirm particular courses and universities of their definitive choice," she said, adding: "Otherwise the government had disbursed the required monies to particular universities one month before the opening date."

The government said it would now relocate a particular student's money from the initial university of admission to the new one, in line with their preferences recorded at TCU.

On Tuesday, the government came under intense pressure to reverse controversial hurdles to student loans, after an MP bitterly complained that legitimate students were increasingly being locked out due to an alleged poor system.

CCM Special Seats MP Ms Martha Mlata, sought the Speaker's guidance following claims that some universities blocked admission for students who had been given loans by the HESLB. She said despite a huge turnout for university enrolment this year, a number of qualified high level students were locked out.

Visibly shocked, the Speaker, Mr Job Ndugai, remarked: "This is serious." HESLB announced last month that a total number of 30,000 first year students were expected to benefit from the 108.8bn/- set aside for the 2017/18 financial year.

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