Helb to phase out Internship loans in 2 years

The Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) has announced that it will phase out internship loans to undergraduate students within two years.

Chief executive Charles Ringera said the internship aid that ranges between Sh6,000 and Sh12,000 is being scaled down and would be phased out in two years.

The students’ loan agency has asked students to seek the support of National Industrial Training Authority, which is mandated to support industrial attachments.

Helb has been offering internship loans to meet students’ needs like accommodation during their internship that comes either in the middle or end of course work.

“We have asked the universities to advise their students that the practicum component has been discontinued,” he said.

The loans agency has been struggling to meet the needs of growing number of university students, forcing some to do without Helb’s assistance.

Most of the students come from poor backgrounds and require financial aid to meet their tuition fees and upkeep.

Mr Ringera said the scaling down of attachment loans was due to, among others things, the need to promote equity and fairness.

“Currently the students eligible for practicum or attachment loans are only the ones taking the traditional science and technology-based programmes like engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy and nursing thus locking out other programmes which also incorporate field and teaching practice within their education programmes. This has led to inequity and unfairness,” he said.

Mr Ringera added that the growing number of universities and programmes requiring field practice support has put a serious dent on Helb’s ability to continue funding them hence the reason to discontinue.

He also said it is not sustainable in the long run as the internship support will affect the student loans budget which is already strained.

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