Windhoek — Some concerned higher education institution students have expressed their displeasure over the newly signed funding agreement to reduce loan and grant holders for 2018, jointly entered into by the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) and the Namibian National Students' Organization (NANSO).
The two parties entered into a payment agreement that all fields of study be paid up to a maximum of N$24,000 per student.
The agreement was signed last Thursday by NANSO vice president Bernhard Kavau and NSFAF acting chief executive officer Kennedy Kadume.
In the agreement the two said due to the economic downturn and competing priorities against limited resources, the higher education funding is equally affected.
In addition, the agreement states that the number of students qualifying for tertiary education has been increasing on an annual basis.
Currently, the NSFAF student population is about 42,000.
"In our endeavour to provide financial assistance to all qualifying students, we ended up going beyond the approved budget ceiling and as a result, not all commitments were met in respect of non-tuition fees. In light of the foregoing, NANSO/SRC representatives from various institutions [and] NSFAF realised the need for an engagement aimed at addressing the situation," the agreement indicated.
However, they agreed that an exception is made for fields of study with tuition fees higher than the N$24,000.
These fields identified as priority are medicine which will be paid up to a maximum of N$54,000; and engineering and veterinary medicine, up to a maximum of N$34,000 per student. The tuition fee is payable on or before July 31.
For non-tuition fees for the 2018 academic year, the parties agreed NSFAF to pay a flat fee of N$17,000 per student non-tuition fees for both continuing students and new intakes. This is applicable to both boarding and non-boarding students. Such fees are also payable on or before July 31.
Regarding payment for international and other local institutions, NSFAF decided to continue paying as per the existing pre-determined rates.
However, these payment agreements did not go down well with some affected students who demand that NSFAF should re-look the decision taken.
In a petition seen by New Era, the concerned group feel some SRC leaders were not consulted when NANSO agreed to the payment agreement with NSFAF.
They allege that only a few selected NANSO leaders are in support of the agreement, saying the situation of all fields of study being agreed to be paid up to a maximum of N$24,000 is unrealistic because many courses can exceed that amount.
"Concerned students ... have strongly engaged into this matter, as we have believed that NANSO leaders played tricks and games on behalf of students, as they are representing government agency not students, on the current state now, they have sold students out, as they have been doing throughout, they have left us with no choice but to admit to their planned trap," the petitioned reads.
The concerned students say they are not happy with the agreed deal against the demand of students - that was the advocacy of NANSO leaders not what the students have raised.
They demand an official meeting, where NSFAF and all NANSO would call upon all the SRC leaders from different institutions to discuss the burning issue, "not the selected SRC in support of NANSO ideologue as they have a hidden agenda which will be revealed later."
The concerned group still believes that it's not late to change the wrong ambition of NANSO leaders.
"In a democratic country no one can decide on behalf of others as wished and in order to be seen by the oppressors as a good organization, yet the oppressed are suffering on their witty agreement. We are against the autocratic (despotic) leadership.
"We also call upon media and concerned people on our behalf to help us fight against the time bomb to students. We still stand on the point of 'a dog (NANSO) that bark without teeth cannot bite',' the group reacted.