MORE than 12 000 students dumped by the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund were thrown a lifeline by their respective tertiary institutions and will be allowed to sit for mid-year examinations.
The institutions allowed the students, most of whom owe thousands of dollars in tuition fees, to write the examinations, although their results may be withheld.
NSFAF this year committed to funding less than 3 000 first-year students, leaving more than 12 000 out in the cold, unless the government can provide a N$641 million shortfall.
The announcement triggered panic among students, as it dawned on them that they may be forced to abandon their studies due to the lack of funding.
Unam spokesperson John Haufiku said since some of the affected students had already started examinations when the NSFAF announcement was made, the institution couldn't reverse the situation.
He added that the university was under the impression that the students' debts would be sorted out by NSFAF, and had as such already allowed the students to write their examinations.
Students are currently not prohibited from the examination halls, while the university consults NSFAF on the way forward.
Unam Students Representative Council (SRC) president Kudzai Sibanda yesterday said the university has informed them that the affected students will be treated as privately funded students, and will be expected to pay their own registration fees for the second semester.
Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) SRC president Juno Angula said all registered students will write their examinations, regardless of their outstanding fees.
"Any first-year student awaiting a decision on funding from the NSFAF will be allowed to write examinations, and this includes students rejected due to administrative issues such as missing documents and those reapplying for funding," he noted.
Angula estimated that about 1 600 first-year Nust students were affected by NSFAF's shortfall.
It was, however, unclear if the students would receive their results after the examinations.
Angula said the SRC will engage the university to get an extension in the debt clearance period.
The dean of students at Triumphant College, Ferdinard Katuuo, confirmed that students affected by the NSFAF funding issue have been allowed to write examinations.
The college's SRC president, Thomas Nangombe, said the student body had negotiated with management to allow 484 affected students to sit for their exams.
Out of 500 students who applied for NSFAF funding, Nangombe said only 16 loans were approved.
Monitronic Success College SRC president Fransiska Manyande said they had asked for leniency from the institution to allow students to write examinations, and this was granted.
She, however, observed that the SRC was "walking on thin ice".
Her explanation was that while she sympathised with the students, the institution similarly needs an income to survive. In the meantime, examination results for students who owe money will be withheld, she added.
The International University of Management said in a notice this week that it will allow students with arrears to write exams.
This was confirmed by the university's SRC president, Epaphras Sheya Ngolo, who said: "The SRC has reached an agreement with the university to allow those who owe the university to write exams."