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15 universities begin repaying phantom loans

Wednesday August 31 2016
pic hesbl

Deputy Permanent Secretary Simon Msanjila

Dar es Salaam. Fifteen universities have started to repay the billions of shillings issued as loans to ghost students, the government has confirmed.

The universities are among 31 higher learning institutions that were directed by the Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, earlier this month to return to the government a total of Sh3.8 billion paid to beneficiaries who have not been traced.

Deputy Permanent Secretary Simon Msanjila told The Citizen that response to the minister’s directive was “encouraging”.

“Following the minister’s directive, the government has begun receiving money paid to students whose existence has not been ascertained,” he said.

However, Prof Msanjila did not state the amount that had been repaid so far.

“I can’t give you further details, but I can confirm from information provided by the Higher Education Students Loans Board and universities I have visited that money is being returned.”

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Prof Msanjila added that he was confident the entire sum would be recovered and issued as loans to deserving students.

On August 17 Prof Ndalichako gave 31 universities seven days to recover and return money paid to 2,192 phantom students in 2015/16. The ultimatum expired last Tuesday.

The order followed a joint investigation carried out earlier this year by the Higher Education Students Loans Board (HESLB) and Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau.

Non-existent students

The probe established that the sum was paid to 2,192 non-existent students who had purportedly been enrolled in 31 of the 81 higher learning institutions investigated, according to Prof Ndalichako.

“It has been established that over Sh3.8 billion was paid to ghost students, so I’m giving the institutions seven days from today to recover and return the money to the government,” she said. Verification conducted in three phases could not trace the students at the universities in which they were purportedly enrolled.

The University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) threatened last week to disqualify students who had not presented themselves for verification.

UDSM deputy Vice Chancellor Florens Luoga said in a statement that the university would not allow finalists who had not been verified by HESLB to graduate.

Prof Luoga said the university’s administration was giving students until October 15 to ensure that they were verified by HESLB.

“The responsibility to request for physical verification lies with individual students...any candidate who will not have been cleared by the set deadline will not be listed for graduation and will be recommended for discontinuation from studies.”

UDSM has been ordered to repay about Sh700 million issued to 350 students who could not be traced.

The University of Dodoma had 356 ghost students and is supposed to pay back Sh406 million, while Saint Joseph University in Tanzania and Sokoine University of Agriculture owe Sh408 million and Sh387 million, respectively.

The list also includes Saint John University Dodoma (Sh294 million); Kampala International University (Sh172 million); Institute of Finance Management (Sh147 million); Dar es Salaam University College of Education (Sh147 million) and Teofilo Kisanji University – Mbeya (Sh145 million).

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