Higher Education Funding and Student Accommodation
The cost of tuition and the availability of adequate student accommodation are some of the biggest challenges in accessing tertiary education in Namibia.
NANSO’s mandate includes promoting wider access to institutions of higher learning, especially for students who come from low- to middle-income households.
Despite the presence of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), there is still a need to critically and radically transform the way we fund higher education, to better respond to the needs of its beneficiaries, while limiting the personal debt incurred by graduates. Key discussions must be held around the education levy, student registration, tuition fees, accommodation, and NSFAF’s funding model.
Every year during the NANSO Access to Education Campaign, we deal with recurring issues of high registration and tuition fees, and NSFAF’s tight funding criteria.
Institutions such as the University of Namibia have high registration fees, especially for international students, while the University of Science and Technology requires students to pay N$4,200.00 upfront, regardless of whether the student has a provisional acceptance letter from the NSFAF.
Furthermore, NSFAF’s funding model only accommodates certain priority courses, thereby disadvantaging many students who, despite they meet other criteria, cannot receive funding. The NSFAF funding model should be amended to best accommodate all students and trainees without leaving out any student in need.
As if tuition is not a stressor enough, a majority of the student population struggles to find accommodation when they leave their homes for tertiary studies. Scholars with limited funds are forced to reside in unsafe areas where it is more affordable, but where they experience higher vulnerability to theft, burglary and other forms of crime.
Moreover, the fixed non-tuition fees do not respond to the students’ needs for accommodation, as the fees awarded do not match the average yearly hostel or rent expenses. The late awarding of non-tuition funds from NSFAF also contributes to this because students are forced to survive off of peanuts throughout the year to only receive these funds towards the end.
The 17th National Students Congress resolved that it is time for change, and that NSFAF in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance must develop an effective strategy in relation to disbursement of funds to altogether curb the late payment of tuition and non-tuition fees, and to amend its funding model.
While we are optimistic with the student village recently-announced by the Government of Namibia, we will continue to champion a study on the feasibility of a Higher Education Levy that would provide Namibia with a stable source of funding for higher education.
It can no longer be business as usual, and we invite you to join us in advocating for equitable access to education in our lifetime!