Students petition government over lack of loans

Malawian students have petitioned the government to increase allocations to the Higher Education Students Loans and Grants agency, or HESLG, after some students failed to access loans due to inadequate funding.

Student union leaders from University of Malawi constituent colleges, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Malawi University of Science and Technology and Mzuzu University delivered the petition in which they threatened to strike if the issue was not addressed within 14 days.

“The core purpose of establishing the student loans and grants board was to help needy students and as such government should increase its budget allocation,” reads the petition.

Students also complained loans awarded were insufficient to cover higher education costs.

They demanded that the government consider consulting them to enable the agency to understand in-depth some of the issues affecting students, and that the HESLG act be amended to include a role for student unions.

“Government should know that non-residential students are suffering very much, to the extent that some have been evicted from houses by landlords. This will affect the education of these students and their future,” said Peter Mvuma, president of the University of Malawi Students Union.

The government has since announced that it has approved loans for 4,166 students at public and private universities, out of a total of 8,226 applications.

HESLG Executive Secretary Chris Chisoni said the loan awarded to each applicant was based on requests made and information provided by the applicant. He added that no grants had been awarded because HESLG had not been funded adequately.

Chisoni appealed to former university students and the private sector to contribute to the loans and grants fund with donations so that the number of students being assisted with loans could be increased.