July 13, 2018
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
President Julius Maada Bio has eliminated the payment of fees for university application forms starting this September and directed the finance ministry to pay for the forms, estimated at Le5.6 billion for university students across the country.
A press release from the Office of the Press Secretary at State House yesterday said: “His Excellency the President has directed that Government pays for the application forms estimated at Le 5.6 billion five billion six hundred million Leones.”
According to the release, the total number of targeted beneficiaries is 15,000 students applying to the University of Sierra Leone (including Fourah Bay College, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences and Institute for Public Administration and Management), Njala University, Milton Margai College of Education and Technology, Eastern Polytechnic, Freetown Teachers College, University of Makeni, Ernest Bai Koroma University and Bonthe Technical College.
The release further stated that refunds would be provided through the institutions listed above after a full verification of the total number of applicants and amount paid by each applicants, adding that upon receipt of funds from government, the institutions would refund the same amount to all those who bought application forms for the 2018/2019 academic year.
“His Excellency the President believes that at a time when he inherited an economy that is near collapse, the cost of application forms for university admission is a burden for many parents, guardians and relatives supporting young people to access higher education,” the release stated, adding that eliminating an estimated Le5.6 billion for the payment of university application fees will not only be huge savings for parents, guardians and relatives, but it would also increase access to higher education for young people.
President Julius Maada Bio, during his campaign, promised to improve education and eliminate the payment of fees for application forms for university students across the country.
The move has been applauded across the country, with would-be college students welcoming it as “pro-poor initiative”.