The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, on Wednesday launched the ‘No Guarantor‘ Student Loan Policy at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi.
The policy was a promise by the Akufo-Addo government prior to the 2020 elections, in their bid to make tertiary education accessible to Ghanaian youth, especially graduates from the highly subscribed Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.
With the policy, the cumbersome and restrictive policy of students providing three SSNIT contributors as guarantors before they could access student loans for tertiary education has been abolished.
Dr Bawumia explained the policy makes it possible for qualified young Ghanaians to access loans to fund their tertiary education, using their Ghana card.
REMOVAL OF BARRIERS TO TERTIARY EDUCATION
Speaking at the launch, Vice President Bawumia said, the coming into fruition of the pro-poor policy, will remove barriers and significantly increase inclusive access to tertiary education.
“The removal of the guarantor requirement is a critical first step to ensuring cost is not a barrier to access and participation in tertiary education.
“Indeed, these are exciting times to be a youth in Ghana. One can go through education from basic to tertiary with guaranteed support from Government,” Dr Bawumia said.
He noted that globally, loans have enabled financially challenged individuals to go through Universities and pay after graduation and the government of President Akufo-Addo recognised this need, and the challenges associated with students getting guarantors to secure loans, hence the introduction of the Policy to ease the burden of parents of qualified Free SHS graduates.
Expressing his delight over the launch of the policy and how it will help the poor, Dr Bawumia gave startling statistics of how many students are unable to access guarantor-required student loans, thus, possibly being denied access to tertiary education.
“Evidence shows that the guarantor requirement poses a barrier to access. Out of the 325,000 eligible students whose details were submitted by all the tertiary institutions on the Student Loans portfolio, only 9.6% could access the loan in the 2019/20 academic year,” he revealed.
“Similarly, only 8.4% of eligible students could access loans in 2016/2017, 9.8% in 2017/18 and 8.6% in 2015/16. Further, in the 2019/20 academic year, 42% of the 7,552 loan applicants could not submit their completed forms because of difficulty finding eligible guarantors,” he added.
“We promised to remove the guarantor requirement as a condition for loan access in the 2020 manifesto of the NPP. In fulfilment of this promise, the Government has revised the policy; hence, tertiary students will not have to present a Guarantor in order to access student loans. Effective this school year, all eligible tertiary students will have to submit their Ghana Card to access the loans,” Dr Bawumia said.
He also expressed delight that the No Guarantor Student Loan Policy has been made possible through the Ghanacard thanks to the investment the government has made in digital infrastructure, which has made the Ghanacard a reliable national identity card for Ghanaians.
“This is one of the benefits we derive as a country by prioritizing digitalization. It is at the core of every serious economic management.”
Various Speakers at the ceremony, including the Vice-Chancellor of KNUST Prof. Rita Akosua Dickson and the President of NUGS, Dennis Appiah Larbi, expressed gratitude to the government of President Akufo-Addo for the policy.
All the speakers agree the policy will open doors for more brilliant but needy students to access tertiary education, which they usually miss out on due to lack of funding.
Also present at the ceremony was the Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, who expressed his Ministry’s commitment to ensuring the success of the policy.
The No Guarantor Student Loan Policy is another milestone in education after expanding access to secondary education through the Free SHS policy.
Qualified students are required to apply online to the Ghana Students Loan Trust with their Ghanacard and successful students will have their fees paid directly to their tertiary institutions.