The history of National Student Loans in the Maldives

How it began

National Student Loans (NSL) scheme was introduced during September 2012 by the former president Dr. Mohammed Waheed Hassan as a solution for the uprising student crisis after Maldives National University then Maldives College of Higher Education dropped its government-funded student pocket money program starting from July of 2009.

The scheme was however not the nation’s first student loan scheme not accounting for the aging student loan facility by the national bank which itself is very different from the government scheme.

Maldives National University Building. Photo credits to MNU

First-ever student loans were also introduced by the current student loan governing body Department of Higher Education with the collaboration of Bank of Maldives PLC during 2010. The scheme was named “Student Loan Scheme” and was awarded to students from Maldives College of Higher Education who were suffering from the discontinuation of pocket money program. The facility was granted a grace period of 12 months with a monthly disbursement of MVR2,000 for 1 year period. The scheme was also inclusive of interest.

The Student Loan Scheme was not very well accepted by the students mostly due to speculations of corruption in awarding the facility, inclusion of interest, and the poor design of the facility which was not very well appealing or satisfying the needs of the students at the time. The scheme was discontinued after multiple student petitions were submitted to then-president Mohamed Nasheed.

Today’s National Student Loan Scheme (aka, Tertiary Student Loan Scheme) is a redesigned program on top of the Student Loan Scheme which was very well accepted by students & the public. The scheme is flexible, multiple study areas were available and it was not limited only to National University Students. Most importantly the loan facility was interest and collateral-free, which attracted even more students who were reluctant to go for BMLs student loan offering which was with interest and requires collateral.

Photo Credits to Asian Development Bank

The program skyrocketed and more applications were submitted than the authority was ready to handle at once. Almost all eligible participants were awarded the facility and the program was soon relaunched with better management and continued to-date. Awarding Criteria and selection process were redesigned and specific study areas are removed and replaced with all the programs accepted by the MQA.

Fun Fact(s):

  • Student loans account for the single largest debt from the public (individuals).

  • Student loan debt account for more than a Billion Rufiya as of August 2017.

  • The average student loan amount is MVR300,000 for a university degree of which only 40% account for the tuition fee for most college degrees.

This is so far the happy part of the Student Loan scheme…

Follow the blog to get updates on the not so happy part of the student loan program “Student Loan Debt Crisis in the Maldives” coming soon to the blog.


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