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Uasin Gishu Students Airlifted to Finland Risk Deportation

A number of students pursuing studies at various universities in Finland through the Finland Overseas Education programme sponsored by the county government of Uasin Gishu risk deportation unless pending tuition fee is paid.

Sixty-six students studying Nursing and Physiotherapy at Laurea University of Applied Sciences risk losing their admissions and residency permit if the tuition fee is not paid by the end of March 31st, 2023.

In a response to a letter by the county requesting Laurea University to extend the fee payment deadline until April 15th, 2023, the University stated that the payment deadline of second-semester tuition fees will be March 31.

“If the tuition fees for the second semester for groups Nursing Lohja 200-65, Nursing Tikkurila 200-66, Nursing Porvoo 200-67, Nursing Otaniemi 200-68, and Physiotherapy Otaniemi 200-69 (invoices 258, 259, 260, 261, and 262) by March 31st. 2023, Laurea will terminate the right to study of the students in these groups and end the programmes,” the letter signed by Jouni Koski, President Laurea University of Applied Science states.

It further cautions, “The information of the terminated right to study will automatically flow to the Finnish Immigration Service Migri through electronic systems, which will be followed by cancelling of the residence permits”.

Another university, Tampere University with 111 students airlifted under the programme that was initially dubbed ‘Finland Scholarship Programme’, has already ended cooperation with the county government after declining to extend its February 28 deadline for the tuition fee to be paid.

However, in a press statement released by Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii on Sunday, the universities indicated that they were willing to continue with the program if the parents met their obligation.

Governor Bii in his statement said the program was run independently of the county government by a trust, categorically stating that no public funds were used to fund the program.

“This, therefore, means that no public funds were or will be appropriated to fund this program. The overseas program was created to enable parents who did not have the ability to obtain bank statements or even bank accounts to support the visa application process,” said the county Boss.

This is despite the fact that an Ad-hoc committee of the Uasin Gishu county assembly formed to probe the airlift programme following a petition by a section of parents faulting the county government for signing a sponsorship certificate, thus disadvantaging the students who would not be allowed to work in Finland to supplement their parents in paying fees.

According to the Governor, the total number of 202 students studying degree and diploma programmes are already enrolled in various universities in Finland. Apart from Tampere (111), and Laurea (66), 25 other students are studying at Jvaskyla University.

The first group of the students left Kenya for Finland between September 2021 and September 2022.  Another group of 56 students who have been studying online is expected to join Laurea university, but after paying the second-semester fees by March 31st, 2023 before traveling, according to governor Bii.

He added that 48 students in Kenya whose first-year fees have been paid and have obtained visas and completed the pathway to study engineering at LUT University are ready to travel, 78 other Students in Kenya whose fees have been paid by their parents to the universities and whose visa applications have been launched are waiting for Visa approval before traveling.

Bii added that they have reminded the parents that payment of fees was their responsibility adding that his administration has formed a task force to streamline teething issues to ensure the programe runs smoothly.

The county assembly ad-hoc committee said in its finding that students who applied to join the overseas universities were required to pay an interview fee of Sh6,500, although they were not issued with any receipts.

Further, the students were also then required to pay Sh1.19 million in school fees, Sh80,000 accommodation fee for three months, Sh30,000 insurance fee, Sh49,000 for a visa, and Sh5,000 for Covid test as well as Sh100,000 for the flight.

The committee observed that some senior officials of the county government colluded with some financial institutions and irregularly benefited themselves from the funds meant for the student’s studies.

Ad-hoc committee recommended to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), and other investigating agencies of government to investigate the three senior county officials for forgery, abuse of office, and falling short of integrity.

The ad-hoc committee of the Uasin Gishu County Assembly, which was formed in early February and chaired by MCA Gilbert Chepkonga   recommended that county employees adversely mentioned and are beneficiaries of the transactions from the Uasin Gishu Overseas Education Trust be suspended immediately pending investigations and forensic audit.

It also recommended that former chief officer Youth and Sports Joseph Maritim, Joel Ruto, Director Uasin Gishu Education Revolving Fund, and Meshack Rono, deputy director of the same fund be investigated by EACC and DCI for forgery, abuse of office, and integrity.

By Kiptanui Cherono

 

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