HIGHER Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) says it will release a list of this year’s successful loan beneficiaries next Tuesday as over 80,000 students have applied for the loans.
The HESLB stated yesterday that until the application deadline, it registered a total of 87,747 applications, out of whom 82,043 (93.4 per cent) had completed application procedures and the remaining 5,593 (6.8 per cent) were incomplete.
However, the board announced yesterday that it gives those with incomplete applications until 15th October to complete the procedures so that they do not miss opportunities to benefit from the loans.
The board’s Executive Director, Abdul-Razaq Badru, said this year’s complete applications have increased from 81,425 recorded last year.
He confirmed that the board had already received a total of 125bn/- from the government to pay students for the first quarter of payments.
During this budget, the board has allocated 450bn/- for that purpose, up from 427bn/- set aside last financial year.
Mr Badru stated this when briefing Deputy Minister for the Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Mr William Ole Nasha.
The deputy minister visited the offices of the board yesterday, as preparations for opening of the universities for the new term were underway.
Explaining on improvements, he said the board had connected its systems with that of the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU), as opposed to the previous ones when they used things like CDs.
Another new development was to come up with ‘Student Individual Permanent Account’ (SIPA) which allows beneficiaries to access their loan information through their mobile phones.
He commended the board for its efforts to address challenges facing student loan application processes, particularly by exploiting Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
The board has improved its data systems security, controlling hackers interfering with the information of the board.
Since improvement of the data system security, the board has so far managed to block at least 2,700 hacking attempts.
“I am glad to hear this development because the loans board is a sensitive institution containing information of debtors,” Mr Nasha said.
However, Mr Nasha noted with concern over applicants with incomplete applications, directing the board to ensure the applicants are not denied opportunities only because of technological challenges when they try to apply.
“We should agree that the technology is a challenge. Indeed, if we deny them opportunities, it would be unfair,” the deputy minister said.
He also told the board to ensure that the money reach themed them at the right time, saying he would be surprised if he were to hear that money was delayed while the government had already disbursed it to the board’s bank account.
Deputy Permanent Secretary for the docket, Prof James Mdoe, called on the board, universities and students themselves to address the issue of delays.
Loans officers at the universitiesare sometimes the reason for this challenge since they do not inform students after funds have been deposited into university accounts so that they can start procedures to claim the money.
Secretary General of the Tanzania Higher Learning Institutions Students Organisation (TAHLISO), Mr Charles Stefano, told the deputy minister that some of the challenges the students faced was delays in money transfer to their accounts.
He also raised concern over difficulties they faced in applying for loans because some of them live in rural areas where internet access was a challenge.