Ministry won’t bail out Unam defaulters

31 August 2016 | Education



The Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation says it will not overrule the University of Namibia’s plan to bar students who owe money from writing exams.
Namibian Sun reported earlier this month that Unam had vowed not to allow students who are in debt to write examinations in October.
Registered students who owe tuition fees are not the only ones Unam is gunning for. The university is also reporting those who dropped out to debt collectors.
Earlier this year, Unam lowered the fees payable at registration from N$3 500 to N$1 500. This, coupled with confusing statements from the Ministry of Higher Education, led to many believing that some of the fees had been scrapped.
Unam spokesperson John Haufiku told Namibian Sun at the time that the notice put up by the university regarding outstanding fees was not a scare tactic.


He said the university would not allow any student to sit for examinations while owing the institution money.
Haufiku said students were asked to settle what they owed for the first semester by May. They are now required to settle all debt before the year-end examinations.
Asked for comment, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Alfred van Kent, said the ministry cannot decide what universities should do with students who have not paid their debts.
“The ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation is not micro-managing higher education institutions. These institutions are run by competent councils and the ministry cannot decide what they should do with students who have not paid their debts,” Van Kent said.
The ministry said the agreement reached with Unam and the Namibia University of Science and Technology earlier this year was that students who were unable to pay their tuition fees at registration would be allowed to register while the outstanding amount would be charged to their accounts.
The ministry requested the Namibian Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) to cover the debts of Namibian undergraduate students who passed all their courses in 2015 and met the criteria of academic performance and financial needs as specified by NSFAF.
Some students complained that for some courses NSFAF loans did not cover all their debt.
Earlier this month, some students laughed off Unam’s threat to bar them from exams, saying the university always issued the warning but ended up letting everyone write.
According to Haufiku, Unam is serious this time around.
“We’ve made it clear that this year, it’s different. We explained that because of events of this year, the student intake this year is much higher than before. This year, debt stands at N$255 million for registered students, and doesn’t include those who dropped out,” Haufiku said.
GORDON JOSEPH

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