The University of Namibia (UNAM) is owed over N$70 million in tuition fees from the 2015 academic year alone, with about 7000 students in arrears, university spokesperson John Haufiku told The Villager this week.
“It is for that reason that the university has decided to reduce the registration fee from N$5000 to N$3 550 for the 2016 academic year. The university knows how difficult it is for some students and parents to pay registration fees. So, in an effort to reduce the number of students who owe the institution, this is the best approach”, Haufiku stated.
The institution has urged students who may find it difficult to pay tuition fees during the course of the year to visit the office of the Dean of Students, and submit a detailed letter explaining their financial challenges. Haufiku said the university will rescue those who would have proven that they are in need of such assistance through the Namibia Students’ Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF).
Students at the University of Namibia and the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST), formerly the Polytechnic of Namibia, have in the past year raised concerns about the rise in tuition and registration fees.
These institutions have been at loggerheads with students regarding refunds. It is because of this that the NSFAF introduced a pilot project to split tuition and non-tuition fees in 2014. This was supposed to allow students the financial independence in knowing how to manage their finances as an essential life skill.
The Fund paid tuition fees directly to institutions of higher learning, while the non-tuition fees were paid directly to students. Non-tuition funds could be utilized to buy books, pay for taxis and even accommodation, provided there’s enough money remaining once the Fund had paid the tuition fees.
This pilot project was rolled-out at both NUST and the International University of Management (IUM). In 2015, it was extended to the University of Namibia.
The NSFAF has strict predetermined rates approved by the board of directors, based on the kind of programs and the level of educational qualification students are pursuing.
This means that a certificate student gets less financial assistance compared to a diploma student, while a diploma student in turn gets less financial assistance compared to a student who is pursuing a full degree.
In 2011, The Villager wrote that the Ministry of Education was owed about N$375m in loan repayments by former students who accessed the educational support from the Government since 1997 when the incentive was launched.
Students from previously-disadvantaged communities usually apply for Government study loans through the Ministry’s Namibia Students’ Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), with the understanding that they will repay the money after finishing their studies.