The magnificent MUST campus at Goliati in Thyolo
* He applauded public and private sectors for promoting higher education for needystudents face
* All institutions asked to be accountable to the partners that are supporting the initiative
* MUST is contractually obligated by the donors to spend on the fund in accordance with their wishes
* It shall be giving regular updates of how the fund is growing and being utilised
By Chimwemwe Njoloma, MANA & Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express
Vice-President Saulos Chilima has applauded Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) for setting up its Endowment Fund for student scholarships and encourages other universities to borrow a leaf from this initiative.
He made the remarks on Saturday at Lilongwe Golf Club where he presided over the Endowment Fund’s, saying beyond what the government was doing with the loans board, such initiatives were welcome over and above scholarships that are given by some private sector organizations like National Bank of Malawi, FDH, NICO and Old Mutual.
He applauded public and private sectors for promoting higher education by addressingchallenges needy students face in different institutions.
“I am aware that MUST have plans to grow this fund to a very big number,” he said. “Currently,,they are sitting at K1.5 billion and they are trying to raise a billion through a number of initiatives including this tournament.
“This being an investment that looks at future generations, is a good one and like I said that it’s commendable and we must encourage the private sector, individuals, international organizations to partner with the university.”
He said said if other universities are already building their own endowment funds, then obviously need up the game so that their minimum endowment fund should be over K5 billion.
He called upon all institutions to be accountable to the partners that are supporting the initiative.
“We have to be very transparent and accountable. Money that comes in as donations is somebody else’s sweat and therefore the best way of saying thank you is to look after the resources and put them to good use,” Chilima said.
At a press conference to announce the official launch last week, Director of Finance & Investment, MacDonald Hudge and Director of MUST Institute of Industrial & Innovation, Dr. David Mkwambisi said MUST is contractually obligated by the donors to spend on the fund in accordance with their wishes and shall be giving regular updates of how the fund is growing and being utilised.
A donor can increase their gift in installments and the minimum value of gifts is K20 million for corporates and K5 million for individuals. Nonetheless, the University may accept lower amounts as a gift for the general pool and the donors shall receive annual reports.
The benefits of the trust is that the donation survives the life of the giver, thus creating true legacy and that an individual donor has the priviledge of naming their gift to a family member, a friend, a special faculty member or themselves.
Hudge had explained that the funding from government is not enough to sustain their services and took a leaf from foreign universities — especially from the USA where they weaned themselves from dependency on government subventions by establishing endowment funds.
He said MUST has decided to take a similar approach as a strategy for diversifying revenue streams after taking cognizance that universities in Malawi have received annual donations from individuals and corporates in support of tuition fees and living expenses for students.
But “whilst this has for sure facilitated education of those supported, it has no assurance of its sustainability” and that it benefitted a few whilst the endowment fund is invested with financial institutions to yield interest to cater for its services.
The principal gift from the donor “is continually preserved and only the proportion of the yield is spent annually and given their permanence, this assures that teaching, research and service can be sustained forever while the donors legacy continually being recognised”.
“The support goes beyond the donors’ lifetime and the funds will continue to grow and beat inflation,” Hudge said.
On his part, Mkwambisi said students shouldn’t be allowed to withdraw because they cannot afford to pay their school fees as this is a loss of resources spent on such students by the university and a loss of human resource for the national agenda”.
MUST’s Vice-Chancellor Prof. Address Malata shared a story of an orphan from Mzuzu who went to the university with just a pair of slippers, no fees and no money to buy food.
She said the student had lost both parents when he was in Form 1 and a relative who had stepped in to help him also passed on when he was in Form 3 rendering him destitute.
“The boy worked during odd hours of his academic studies to pay for his school fees in Form 4 and passed with eight points that enabled him to be selected to MUST.
“He came empty handed and he did not get a Loan from the Loans Board. He was that desperate and that is why we are here this afternoon for students like him.
“Our belief is that no student should drop out of university because he cannot afford to pay school fees as this is a loss of human resource for the national agendas,” Malata said.
She thanked the Vice–President for supporting the initiative through his presence and taking part in the launch as well as spicing the event by playing the golf tournament.
Minister of Education, Agnes Nyalonje said there are just many students who need support and the Loans Board cannot reach out to all due to budgetary constraints andlimitations in scope as such initiatives to contribute towards access to higher education are encouraged.
“I would like to thank the MUST Council and the university’s management for this innovative, progressive and transformational approach to doing things,” she said.
The Endowment Trust’s brochure explains that the national budget allocation to higher education over the past five years has been between 20-28% of the total education budget — which is relatively a large share.
This notwithstanding, the allocation falls short of supporting the financial needs of the higher education sub-sector whose thrust is increasing access, improving quality of education and ensuring relevance of programs to the country’s needs as per National Education Sector Plan.
“As a result of the inadequate financial allocation, public universities have difficulties implementing planned activities, thereby affecting realization of the mandates — MUST has not been spared of this predicament.
“All said, teaching and learning is the core activity for the mandate of MUST, it is therefore safe to state that students are the biggest beneficiary endowments.
“The fact that MUST Endowment Fund is held in perpetuity, the society at large benefits the most because, when students graduate, they engage in gainful employment or business and thus contribute to national development,” says the brochure, whose motto is ‘Create True Legacy’.