Uganda’s biggest and oldest education institution, Makerere University Council, the supreme governing body of the institution, has passed a resolution seeking to abolish government scholarships and replace them with loans for all university students.
Under the leadership of Eng. Dr. Charles Wana-Etyem, the University Council made the recommendation while responding to the 2016 Visitation Committee Report which proposed that Makerere implements a diversified funding model on international best practices so as to make the university financially sustainable.
"The University Council already recognized the need for a diversified funding model and came up with various proposals for enhancing its revenue through, among others, establishment of Makerere Holdings Company, endowment fund etc," council members responded.
This decision reiterates the recommendation by the Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB) to the education committee of parliament which recently recommended a policy shift on the financing of merit students at public universities and other tertiary institutions.
HESFB executive director Michael Wanyama told the committee that government would save substantial resources to fund the Student Loan Scheme if it abolishes the merit sponsorship scheme.
"If only half of the Fund is relocated to the Students' Loans and implemented in phases, the already existing fund shall be utilised by more students when re-allocated. Alternatively, Government could consider cost sharing/partial scholarships being awarded to merit students at all levels of Higher Education Support and this is a worldwide practice," said Wanyama.
The Uganda government sponsors 4,000 new students every year in the eight public universities including Makerere, Kyambogo, Mbarara, Busitema, MUBS, Kabale, Lira, Muni and Gulu.
At least 64 go to persons with disabilities while districts take 896 are given out on the district quota system to cater for the best students in different districts.
These students are part of the approximately 87,102 students that are currently enrolled in the eight public universities and one degree awarding institution- Uganda Management Institute.
Currently, a total of 11,537 students are on the government scholarship scheme. Government students' enrolment statistics indicate that Makerere University still takes the largest number of students on the scholarship scheme with 6,149 students, followed by Kyambogo University with 2,456 students, Makerere University Business School-MUBS with 1,172, Busitema with 684, Mbarara with 640, Muni with 256, Kabale with 96 and Lira University with 84 students under the government scholarship.