Students who owe the Polytechnic course fees will still be able to write their examinations, a decision partly prompted by the student debt that is nearing the N$40 million mark.
According to the Polytechnic, as of the beginning of this month the students’ debt stood at N$38 million.
The institution announced last Wednesday in a newspaper advertisement that the examination fees for the students who have outstanding amounts would be overlooked for the time being. The students will be allowed to sit for examinations but will not be allowed to register next year until they have settled their overall debts.
“All students qualifying for the November exams will be allowed to write, irrespective of their debts at this time. However, their results will be withheld and future registrations blocked until their accounts are settled,” reads the notice.
New Era last month reported that the University of Namibia (Unam) is saddled with student debts amounting to N$43 million, a situation that has forced the institution to rely on overdraft facilities to meet its obligations
In total, it means students at the country’s two biggest public tertiary institutions owe a combined N$81 million.
Polytechnic’s director of marketing and communication Kaitira Kandjii in response to New Era questions on Friday said: “Their [students’] results will be withheld and future registration will be blocked until their accounts are settled. It is important that outstanding amounts are settled before the registration period for the 2016 academic year closes.”
Kandjii said the decision to permit students to sit for exams even if their fees are not paid stems from a request of the student representative council.
“It is crucial to note that the Polytechnic of Namibia remains sympathetic to the plight of its students, whose families and households often struggle to meet the financial obligations tied to tertiary education. For this reason, the decision to allow students with outstanding fees to sit for the 2015 examinations was taken,” said Kandjii.
Kandjii however pointed out that tuition fees are paid to ensure that the institution is able to provide quality education and services, in addition to maintaining infrastructure.
Tuition fees might be scrapped in the near future at public tertiary institutions, with government having committed to start the process of looking at abolishing tertiary fees.
While delivering his mid-term budget review statement on Tuesday in parliament, finance minister Calle Schlettwein said that plans to assess modalities for transforming the student financial assistance fund from a loan-based to scholarship grant fund are in motion.
Government has allocated N$1.3 billion to the University of Namibia, N$718 million to the Polytechnic while N$1.5 billion was set aside for bursaries during the current financial year.
While education is already heavily subsidised, the cost of education continues to be out of reach for many Namibians. Thousands of students currently owe the Namibia Student Financial Aid Fund over N$500 million.