Sunday Mail Reporter
Government has mobilised $105 million to be accessed as loans by students in tertiary institutions.
The loan scheme, which was recently reviewed by removing stringent conditions and introducing flexible repayment terms, is part of targeted measures to help reduce the burden for students and improve the administration of tertiary institutions.
Last month, Government paid $15 million to settle part of the arrears owed to institutions through the cadetship scheme. Payments to the programme, which began in 2010 to cater for disadvantaged students, were last made in 2016.
An additional $60 million has also been extended to help meet operating expenses for colleges and universities.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira told The Sunday Mail that Government had decided to relax repayment terms to make it easier for students to access them.
“Not every student has access to a payslip, so we introduced this loan which can be accessed by students and has better repayment methods,” he said.
“One can pay per semester or upon completion of studies. We have mobilised the funds from the fiscus and the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (ZIMDEF), and CBZ will match every dollar that we put into the scheme, which takes the money to $105 million.”
He said the new pool of funds would complement the already existing facilities that are presently being offered by private players such as Getbucks, CBZ, POSB and ZB Bank.
It is believed that more than 25 000 students have accessed loans from the financial institutions.
Commercial banks insist on the applicant’s guarantor’s current payslip, from which deductions are subsequently made every month.
However, Government-sponsored loans, which are being administered by CBZ, do not require a payslip to access them and repayment terms can be negotiated.
Prof Murwira said: “The facility with the private players is a private arrangement between the financial institution and the student upon providing required documentation.
“We have also paid $15 million cadetship arrears in all universities, polytechnics and teachers’ colleges this month, which had been last paid in 2016.
“Government is also disbursing between $6 million to $10 million in operational funds to all tertiary institutions to help with their operations.
“All these measures are meant to cushion the institutions so that they exert less pressure on students.”
Although Government had capped tuition fees in tertiary institutions, Minister Murwira added, universities and colleges had the prerogative to determine levies.
University students are paying between $3 500 and $5 000 per semester after the recent adjustment in fees, while at other tertiary colleges students are now forking out between $500 and $1 500 depending on the programme.
For example, medical students are required to pay $5 000 in tuition fees, while those studying sciences, engineering and technology have to part with $4 000.
Arts and humanities now attract $3 500 per semester.
Similarly, polytechnics, teachers’ colleges and industrial training colleges are now charging $500 to students studying towards National Foundation Certificate programmes, $1 050 for national certificates and $1 100 for a national diploma, including the Diploma in Education.
Students pursuing Higher National Diploma and Bachelor of Technology programmes will be required to pay $1 200 and $1 500 respectively.
Amenity fees payable in tertiary institutions have been set at $1 500.
However, the cost of ancillary fees, accommodation and meals varies depending on the learning institution.
Overall, colleges and universities have been directed not to charge over $5 000 in fees per semester, while polytechnics and teachers’ colleges are not expected to exceed $1 300 for certificate and diploma programmes.