WINDHOEK – Eight Namibian students who were promised a chance to study in various fields in the eastern European country – Ukraine, now find themselves stranded and claim they were scammed by the Ukrainian agency for Higher Education Centre for African and Asian Students (UHECAS) that employs Windhoek-based agents.
However, yesterday the agency’s representatives in Windhoek, denied knowledge of any of their student clients being short-changed, while conceding that one of the students complaining did not follow the prescribed rules and procedures. An investigation by New Era yesterday found that students are paying as much as N$3 000 for admission letters, N$8 000 for a visa, N$16 000 for airfare and an additional N$15 000 for accommodation to study in the Ukraine. One student deposited a total of N$64 000 upfront just for tuition.
Four Namibian students who travelled to the Ukraine last week to study veterinary medicine and general medicine received a rude awakening when they were notified that the courses for which they had enrolled are not offered at the particular institution. One of the students, a 29-year-old female student, told New Era yesterday they applied to study in that country through UHECAS. The student said she applied to study veterinary medicine at the M.Gorky Donetsk National University through UHECAS, but when she arrived at the university last week she was told the institution does not offer that course. The student shared with this newspaper that when she arrived in the Ukraine she learnt about ten other students who last year applied through UHECAS, but are yet to start their courses and this despite completing a preparatory course that ended this year. The students say UHECAS agents told them that the pharmacy course is offered in English, while in actual fact it is only offered in Russian.
“Students must not apply through that office, it is corrupt,” said the sobbing student. The disappointed student said she is receiving threats from agents in the Ukraine for telling their story on-air over the Otjiherero language service of the NBC last week. “We are not feeling safe,” she said. However, the director of the UHECAS agency’s local agents, Jane Nachazya Nanyangwe, said she has not received complaints from any students who applied through the agency, except for one student who “did not listen, she did not even follow the rules.”
“I am not the only person who deals with Ukraine students. To be honest with you I do not touch any students’ money,” said a visibly ruffled Nanyangwe when this newspaper visited her office yesterday. Nanyangwe refused to comment on record on the allegations regarding the money issues and the courses. She also refused to reveal the names of the universities at which Namibian students are enrolled. She further said the agency does not have a profile for the students who apply through it to study in the Ukraine. “Why should I have a profile? You newspapers, you like writing lies.
I don’t have any complaints from any students,” she lashed out at New Era reporters, adding that she has so far helped eleven students. The Marketing and Communications Manager of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), Percy Tjahere, said all students are being warned beforehand not to apply for further studies in the Ukraine through agents. “They [students stranded in Ukraine] went on their own, they are not financed by the fund,” said Tjahere, who warned that students should follow correct procedures when they want to study at foreign tertiary institutions.
By Alvine Kapitako and John Travolter Matali