The Ugandan government has cancelled study loans for 47 university students who lied about the death of their parents in order to benefit from the students’ loan scheme.
The authorities in charge of the government loan scheme have also ordered that the affected students be compelled to refund public funds after it emerged that others either lied about disability or forged unspecified documents.
Ugandan media reports that the 47 students were among the 1,113 beneficiaries of the 2020/2021 academic year study loans.
Sources said the affected students faked orphanage and declared either both parents or a single parent dead to benefit from the study loans yet their parents are alive.
The Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB) that awards students loans usually gives priority to students with disabilities, orphans, females and students from northern Uganda.
In an interview with Ugandan media outlet, the HESFB communication manager, Mr Bob Nuwagira, confirmed the disqualification of 47 students and reiterated that majority of the affected students were pursuing Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery and Pharmacy and Engineering courses.
Mr Nuwagira said 32 out of the 47 students “killed” their parents, 10 faked disabilities while others falsified documents.
The students are from various public and private universities, including Makerere, Kampala International University, Kabale, Kyambogo, and Ndejje University.
The affected students will sponsor themselves effective the second semester of their year one of study. They have also been ordered to refund all the funds the government paid to the nine universities for the first semester.
“In accordance with Section 38 of the Higher Education Students Financing Act, an applicant who makes a false statement to the board commits an offence. It is against this background that the board decided to terminate your loans with immediate effect,” a letter addressed to one of the beneficiaries read in part.
Similar letters signed by the HESFB boss, Mr Michael Wanyama, were sent to all the 47 affected students on September 1.
“Please note that you have already received funds amounting to Shs3.1m which you must pay. Please make arrangements with our loan recoveries team on how the funds shall be repaid. Also arrange to privately meet your fees requirement going forward,” the letter adds.
Mr Nuwagira said the board was able to unveil the students in question during its verification exercise that is usually conducted 21 days after the loans have been awarded to beneficiaries.
He said as one of the affirmative action, the board gives 15 per cent advantage to any student who apply for the loans with disabilities, 7 per cent to orphans, 7 per cent to female students and 7 per cent to students from northern Uganda.
“Students took advantage of the affirmative action element to access study loans. Whereas other students are working for 100 per cent, the PWDs are working for only 85 per cent, “Mr Nuwagira said.
“Those who applied as a disability applicant were taken through medical examinations which pointed out that 10 of those who applied as PWDs were very normal,” he added.
Mr Nuwagira said the board will now first verify the documents of all applicants before starting to pay their tuition.
The names of the affected students were not disclosed to protect the parents and other family members who did not take part in the forgeries.