Unam withholds results over student debt

The University of Namibia (Unam) has resolved to withhold the 2016 final academic results for senior students who failed to honour the settlement agreement they entered into with the university in December.

Late last year, Unam management held meetings with the Student Representative Council (SRC), following which both parties agreed that students should be allowed to write their exams, but on strict conditions.

Unam vice chancellor (VC) Lazarus Hangula, who took the issue to the Governing Council last October, resolved that students with genuine financial constraints should consult the Office of the Dean of Students (ODS) to verify the legitimacy of each student's case in terms of the ODS protocols. If there are valid grounds for late payment, council said such students would be authorised to write their exams.

Another condition agreed to was that students who are found by the ODS not to be in financial need should sign individual settlement agreements with Unam. Hangula said students that owe over N$100,000 were to consult the ODS and the Office of the Bursar to evaluate why their student fees escalated to such proportions and to agree on the necessary steps to be taken.

Further, it was agreed that students who are unable to settle their fees now should enter into individual settlement agreements with the Office of the Bursar, following which they would be authorised to write exams.

The VC had warned at the time that failure to comply with the settlement agreements by December 31 would result in the nullification of the particular student's results.

In an interview with New Era on how many students entered into such an agreement, Unam spokesperson Simon Namesho said by the end of 2016, around 2,931 students had entered into a Debt Settlement Agreement with Unam.

Asked how many had adhered to the agreement that if they do not pay by December 31, 2016, their results would be nullified, he noted out of the 2,931 students, 301 students had settled their debts with the university in full.

He said the remaining 2,630 students had partially settled their debts with the university by December 31.

However, he added that no senior students were allowed to register for 2017 before they had settled all outstanding fees for the previous year.

Asked whether many students' results were nullified and what would happen to such students, Namesho said the university resolved only to withhold the results of students that had outstanding fees and not to nullify the results.

On how UNAM will ensure it does not find itself in a predicament due to escalating student debts running into millions of dollars this year, as was the case last year, Namesho said all students, sponsors, parents and guardians are urged to honour their student account debts before June 30.

"This can be done by paying directly into the Unam student bank account, using the student number as reference. Unam management continues to diligently implement cost-saving measures to avert any financial predicament experienced at present," he maintained.

That, he says, includes internal measures such as halting the appointment of new employees and limiting internally funded travels, conferences and other recurrent expenses for staff in order to balance the books and keep the university in the black.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia