Barely three weeks to registration, many students admitted to the University of Rwanda (UR) for the September 2014 intake are yet to find means to finance their studies.
Some say that they will not be able to take up admission if the government does not support them, given the dire financial situation they are in.
One of those pleading for support is Francoise Umutoniwase, who passed her exams from Kagarama Secondary School.
The New Times met the 20-year-old university hopeful at the College of Business and Economics (CBE), last Friday in the company of her mother and elder sister who is also a university student.
They all looked forward to some assurance that Umutoniwase would be granted a scholarship loan, because the family will not be able pay for her tuition.
“Out there some people sell land or any other property to pay tuition. In this city, my family has no property and no revenue. University will be but a mere dream without government support,” she said.
For Edouard Haganimana, an orphan, securing admission to UR and beginning studies are two different things. The 23-year-old former student of Ecole Secondaire de Rusumo, said he could not afford it.
He said his admission to Musanze-based College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine would be of no consequence without support from the government.
We want the government to treat us the way they treated our elder brothers; by giving us scholarship loan to be recovered upon graduation,” said Berthe Mukeshimana from GS Buringa in Muhanga District.
On her part, Samanta Umuhire said her family and relatives should raise the tuition because: “It is not always fair to ask for government support because there are many other issues it has to attend to.”
Ministry to decide
There is no doubt that something is in the pipeline in form of student loan financing. Louise Karamage, the deputy Director General for Higher Education at the Rwanda Education Board, said loan application process, with new guidelines would be unveiled this week.
But students say they did not expect major changes in the application procedure for this academic year.
They refer to the Ministry of Education (Mineduc) warning last year, that the government and parents should share the cost of tertiary education, a common global practice.
Last year, the government announced a flat tuition fee of Rwf 600,000 per year to be paid by all students in public university.
In principle, every student is supposed to pay, but the ministry suggested that the poor and the extremely poor would get half and full tuition respectively in form of loans to be recovered after graduation.
This however, raised complaints from students who claimed the process of selecting beneficiaries (the poor and very poor) was faulty.
Mineduc has since proposed that the scholarship loan disbursement and recovery be handed to the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD). This proposal has also been received with mixed feelings with some people saying bank loans would come with many penalties and restrictions.
Last week, Alexis Kanyankore, the BRD Chief Executive Officer said that the deal was yet to be sealed.