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Higher Education Ministry forms committee to review student support fund system


By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto, The Jordan Times


AMMAN — A new committee has been formed by the Ministry of Higher Education to review the regulations governing the student support fund and ensure its continuity, a ministry official said, explaining that the committee aims to “achieve greater fairness in the distribution of loans and scholarships while expanding the base of students benefiting from the fund”.
The remarks were made by the ministry’s secretary general, Ahed Wahadneh, in an interview with The Jordan Times on Monday, where he announced that the board, which he chairs, has initiated a study of the “financial and administrative reality” of the fund, recommending the introduction of new elements that allow for the creation of “effective partnerships” with the private sector in order to improve the financial status of the fund. 
He further stressed the need to develop an “integrated computer software” covering all stages of the fund’s administrative work, from the student’s application to the Higher Education Ministry to the final collection phase. 
“The National Strategy for Human Resources Development requires us to increase the number of students benefiting from the fund, and the only way for us to do so is for students to repay the loans they were previously granted,” Wahadneh continued, explaining “an integrated computerised system would guarantee that students do not skip any period, allowing for an increase in the number of beneficiaries by 220 per cent.” 
In January of this year, the ministry announced that all 42,647 students who applied for grants, loans and scholarships for the academic year of 2017/2018 had been accepted, accounting for 44 per cent of the students enrolled in public universities and eligible for the fund.
However, earlier this month, Wahadneh revealed that the ministry’s student support fund is currently suffering from a deficit of JD18 million. 
“It is worth noting that this deficit is virtual in the sense that the money is there, but it is still in the hands of the students who are due to pay their loans back,” Wahadneh clarified at the time, stressing that the fund has supported students with a total of JD260 million in scholarships and loans since its establishment in the academic year of 2004-2005.
During the session, the official stressed the need to “take into account the living conditions of Jordanian citizens”, calling for the development of a system that “preserves the public funds of the state while considering the economic situation of the students borrowing from the fund”.
"The ministry is aware of the financial constraints that students are suffering from,” the official said, noting that the by-law governing the repayment of the loans is currently under revision in order to grant students with a grace period of six months to one year after graduation. 

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