Hundreds of students at Chreso University in Lusaka fear losing their scholarship after management asked them to reapply for considering, under an on-going audit.
The students claimed, in an interview with News Diggers, that the new management had frozen their scholarships which were signed by the previous administration and asked them to reapply.
But university vice chancellor Dr Christopher Simoonga explained that those who had been asked to reapply were the students who had gone on attachment and were unavailable when the scholarship audit process started.
Students’ Union president Richard Mulenga claimed that the new management was trying to cut out some scholars, as a result of management bickering.
“The issue is that the person who was the vice chancellor resigned and unfortunately after he resigned, he was given the powers to be in charge of giving the [students’] scholarships. But all the scholarships that were given by him have been frozen by the current administration. And we have 400 plus students that are on this scholarship that are affected because we have students from the faculty of education, faculty of health, faculty of business as well as the faculty of hospitality. I think there were some wrangles which were happening within the circles of management. But it’s more like they want to inflict the same wrangles which were there on students, which is so unfortunate,” narrated Mulenga.
“Then again, there were those students who were already on the scholarship, two months ago we were told to renew the scholarships of which we did. So we don’t know why management again is asking us to reapply when just two months ago [February] we were renewing the same scholarships that we were given. They are saying we need to reapply because all those scholarships that were signed by the previous management have not been recognised.”
But when contacted, Dr Simoonga explained that the sponsors of the scholarship had requested management to conduct a scholarship audit.
“Chreso University is a private faith based university. The university itself does not offer scholarships. The scholarships are offered by pastor Helmut Reuter the founding senior pastor of Chreso ministry. Now what we as a university normally do is we receive applications from students who would like to be considered for the Helmut Reuter Scholarship Foundation. The scholarship is a compassionate gesture from the pastor’s office, so this year the chairman of the scholarship, the pastor requested the university to take stock of who was on scholarship and who was not? And who deserved to be there and who didn’t,” explained Dr Simoonga.
“So we invited all those who may have been on scholarship before to submit the application and the support documents and use the same criteria as government in terms of social vulnerability and all that. In fact we are more flexible because if for instance a chief recommends a girl from a vulnerable family in Kaputa or Chiengi or Sinazongwe, we would consider that letter from the headman because it is authentic enough to support the applicant. Now the first batch of students who were available in campus including the first years and the retaining students submitted their applications including those who may have been on scholarship already. And I can assure you that out of all the 95 scholarship applications received, all of them were considered by the pastor when the committee recommended. Now there was a group of students who had gone on attachments and these are 2nd year students, 3rd year and 4th year students mainly in nursing and clinical medicine. So they were not available to apply at that time when we called for renewal of scholarships. And what has happened is that they came back and we gave them an opportunity to apply. So they have applied and as far as I am concerned, the committee is sitting this week and most likely, all of them will be considered.