Scholarship agency bungles US-based students’ fees

complete their studies amid reports that the agency failed to meet its fees obligations.

Secretary for Higher and Tertiary Education, Dr Washington Mbizvo, immediately warned parents and guardians not to deal with “bogus” scholarship agencies not registered with his ministry.
World Wide Scholarships, based in Harare, arranges scholarships for promising local athletes to study abroad. Some of the students only secure part-sponsorship and have to pay for the outstanding fees through some of these agencies.

A Harare-based couple that cannot be named for fear of victimisation, recently paid the agency US$1 900 in administration fees and their son was awarded a 50 percent scholarship. They, however, had to pay the outstanding academic fees amounting to US$11 000 to World Wide Scholarship for their son to be admitted at the college.

The parents secured a bank loan and transferred the money into the agency’s account and their son went to Lindonwood College in the US early this year. Their son, however, sent an urgent message indicating that the agency had paid US$3 000 for fees only.

“We were shocked that he was on the verge of being expelled from the college,” the mother told The Herald recently.
World Wide Scholarships undertook to settle on the deadline – April 29 this year – or the boy would face expulsion.

The student’s electronic college admission card had been withdrawn and he had no access to residence, dining and library facilities.
World Wide Scholarships president Mr Munyaradzi Maraire confirmed receiving the full payment for the fees.

“Our partners in the US are the ones responsible for the confusion and I am actually sorting things out,” he said.
He added that there was some confusion over the deadlines and payment window periods.

Mr Maraire also claimed that he had since settled the bills.
However, further investigations proved otherwise. Direct appeals to the college authorities resulted in a US$2 000 part-payment by the agency that could pay for the student’s summer school.

The student, however, still owes the college US$1 000 including fees for the next semester. He is currently under threat of expulsion while the family has to pay-off the bank loan.
In a separate incident, another couple had to engage lawyers to deal with the agency.

Efforts to engage Mr Maraire on the latest allegations and why the agency demanded full payment were futile, as he did not respond. Mr Maraire, who is in Zimbabwe, has also switched off his cellular phone.
Dr Mbizvo said many students abroad had been stranded outside Zimbabwe.

“School leavers and parents should watch out for these rogue foreign colleges and scholarships because most of them are not recognised by the Higher and Tertiary Education Board. We hear a lot of cases where people are swindled thereby ending up stranded in many countries.”

Dr Mbizvo said students interested in studying abroad should consult his offices for verification of the agents’ reputation. The agents or organisations offering scholarships, he said, would link up with the department of university education, which advises on areas of deficit.

“Such organisations have to follow policy guidelines and there has to be transparency and fairness on the benchmark the organisation tries to set,” he said.

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