PM calls crisis meeting

Higher education, finance, NSFAF to meet with students

06 June 2019 | Education

JEMIMA BEUKES



The government higher education funding crisis has deepened, with tertiary institutions saying they will be severely impacted, while the Office of the Prime Minister has called an urgent meeting to bring the relevant stakeholders to the table.

The reduction of government funding to students will have a severe impact on the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) the institution’s spokesperson, Kaitira Kandjii, said this week.

The chairperson of the International University (IUM) of Management David Namwandi also said the financial crisis is affecting everyone and not students.

More than 12 000 first-year university students may not receive financial assistance during the current financial year, unless the government covers the N$641 million shortfall being experienced by the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF).

Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) president Ester Simon told Namibian Sun a meeting has been called by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) for next week.

The meeting will be between the higher education and finance ministries, Nanso and NSFAF.

Nanso has also invited a host of young professionals in various fields who can provide information, statistics and evidence on how the NSFAF funding crisis will affect students and the country’s economy.

“We need to be fully prepared when we sit down with them. Right now students are panicking and are in limbo, because they are uncertain about their future,” Simon said.

Meanwhile, Nust’s spokesperson Kandjii has told Namibian Sun that income from students is crucial for the university to deliver excellent services to its students.

“With the reduced subsidy from the government, any income stream becomes vital for the university to effectively run its operation and deliver on its mandate.

“Close to 1 000 NUST students will be affected by the NSFAF move of cutting support to students, particularly the first-year students who urgently need support and funding,” he said.

Kandjii added that the university’s executive management was exploring ways to deal with the situation.

“NUST is sympathetic to any of its students who do not have funding or adequate financial support, as the lack thereof affects their academic performance and also determines whether a student will be dropping out or staying on at the university and graduate.

“Therefore, the university is on a fundraising drive to raise funds for its needy students and three weeks ago held a golf day to raise funds for its students to support them with bursaries to enable them to pay for their accommodation, food, schoolbooks and medical needs,” he said.

Meanwhile the founder of IUM Dr David Namwandi has put his hopes for struggling students on a “divine intervention.”

He added that they are aware that the country is going through financial difficulties.

Namwandi who is also a former education minister said IUM is used to financial hiccups and as a result the institution has long adopted very prudent financial policies.

“We sympathise with the students who are entirely depended on the NSFAF funding. We know this financial crisis affects everyone. Not only the student’s even ordinary people in the country. So the pinch that is felt by the students is felt by the government and everybody,” he said.