HEC Students Loan Program: Higher Education Commission (HEC) through its `Student Loan Program’ will extend the opportunity of higher education to all the needy students of public and private institutions of higher learning. Talking to APP, HEC Executive Director, Sohail Naqvi informed that the HEC is in process of designing a model for development of a sustainable Student Loan Program in Pakistan, which can help brilliant students in acquiring higher studies, extending loan facility to them.
The program will benefit the students who are unable to get higher education due to financial constraints, following transparent procedures and best international practices. “The scheme will not only cover tuition fee of the students but all costs,” he said. “We are discussing how the program will be executed for those students in Pakistan who cannot afford to meet expenses of higher education. The students will be provided loan on subsidized interest rate with the condition of returning as soon as they become independent and get jobs,” Dr Sohail said. The main focus is to prepare the policy document for the program which can be acceptable for all the stakeholders, he said. Mostly regular banks remain at the front in extending loan facility for the students and this program will be implementation in collaboration with the banks.
The commercial banks show lack of interest in such projects as they are not sure about return of loans. And these banks have no tools to verify either the student deserves one or not, Dr Sohail observed.
A mechanism will be in placed at the institution level to verify the financial conditions of the students to make the program more transparent. “We are preparing a preliminary design of the program and discussing modalities in various scenarios with the special emphasis on supporting banks and protecting these from risk loan defaults,” Dr Sohail said.
National Education Policy-2009 sets target to increase enrolment at higher education level from existing 4.6 per cent (1.1 million approximately) including colleges and distance education to 10 per cent by 2015 and 15 per cent by 2020 which meant tripling the enrolment of higher education sector in the next six years, he mentioned.
Recently, HEC officials held a meeting with the other stakeholders and discussed the designing and development of the draft of the program in compliance with the directives of the President of Pakistan to develop a sustainable Student Loan Program. The meeting was attended by State Bank of Pakistan Additional Director banking policy and regulation Mahmood Shafqat, Deputy Secretary (Finance) Aamir Mahmood, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Student Loan Scheme Wing vice president Shamim Iqbal, HEC Director General (Finance) Ghulam Mujtaba Kayani, and SAP/BAS Coordinator Khawaja Zahid Hussain.