More students at the University of Namibia (Unam) have settled their outstanding fees, and the collective student debt for 2016 has reduced from a historic massive N$255 million to N$145.39 million.
In August, Unam student debt stood at N$255 million. The reduction means the university will allow more students to sit for their final examinations. The reduction also translates that students have paid about N$100 million of the debt in just two months.
The university spokesperson John Haufiku in an interview with New Era yesterday said that as of October 6 about 13 616 registered students still owed the university a balance of N$145.39 million.
About 8 165 students who discontinued their studies as of last year owe N$51.3 million in total. The names of students who still owe money, Haufiku said, have been handed over to Unam debt collectors.
He attributed Unam student debt having increased significantly during 2016 to non-payment of registration fees upfront.
The huge student debt follows the university having agreed, along with the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), in conjunction with the Ministry of Higher Education, to allow students to register without having to pay fees upfront this year after thousands of students demonstrated against what they termed high tuition fees.
Haufiku explained the debt is a consequence of fee protests that occurred at the beginning of this year, which led to smaller negotiated deposits for many students which in turn meant larger outstanding fees from the start of the year. The final exams start this month.
When asked what will happen to those who will not be able to pay up before the exams, he said that students won’t be allowed to sit for exams without settling fees.
“Those who still owe may not write. We thus plead with students to please pay.”
Initially, Unam set September 30 as the deadline for payment of outstanding fees.
Equally NUST decided that no student whose accounts are in arrears would be allowed to write the October/November final exams.
However, NUST spokesperson Kaitira Kandjii recently said that this rule is not applicable to students who are supported by the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) as an agreement with NSFAF makes provision for these students to write exams, regardless of the state of their accounts.
Without providing details of the student debt, Kandjii had said the response was slow, but payments had shown a steady increase and hopefully most students had settled their fees by the end of June to sit for examinations.
Following student protests earlier this year, Vice-Chancellor Professor Tjama Tjivikua had said the university’s registration fee of N$3 500 had not been scrapped, as widely believed, and must be settled before students sit for exams by June.