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Helb loans cut to Sh9.5bn as university intake falls

The allocation for the year starting July is a drop from the current Sh10.1 billion, making it the first cut in recent years. Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows university enrollment declined to 520,893 this year from 564,507 recorded a year ago — making it the first drop since the government stated making public student numbers in the 1990s.

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed during the Helb meeting at Crowne Plaza hotel on May 3, 2018. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA

The Treasury has cut budget allocation to the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) by 5.9 per cent to Sh9.5 billion, weeks after it emerged that university enrolment dropped by 43,614 last year. The allocation for the year starting July is a drop from the current Sh10.1 billion, making it the first cut in recent years. Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows university enrollment declined to 520,893 this year from 564,507 recorded a year ago — making it the first drop since the government stated making public student numbers in the 1990s.Admission to public universities of students who scored C+ and above over the past two years has reduced the pool of learners available for private varsities and parallel degrees. The falling student enrolment looks set to ease pressure on Helb which has struggled in recent years to cater for the needs of the students, many of who are from poor families.

The allocation of Sh9.5 billion includes cash recovered from past loanees, meaning that the actual allocation from the Treasury is much lower. The university loan scheme has since 1974 supported over 645,000 Kenyans to pursue higher education at a total cost of Sh72 billion, according to Helb records. Of the 396,680 loan accounts created to date, a total of 175,003 loanees have completed their repayment valued at Sh16.7 billion. About 81,994 of the accounts worth Sh8.2 billion have defaulted. In 2016/2017 alone, Helb recovered Sh4.1 billion which accounted for 40 per cent of its financing budget of Sh10.2 billion for the year. “Collaborative efforts between Helb and other partners towards recovery of these loans are therefore most welcome,” said Cabinet Secretary for Education, Amina Mohamed Thursday during the Helb and employers’ forum.“At this point, I am requesting all employers to ensure that all university graduates in their employ are made to repay these loans not as a favour but as a primary requirement.” Ms Mohamed also announced a 100 per cent penalty waiver for beneficiaries making a one off repayment made beginning Thursday to end June.

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