WEC Student Fund (WSF)
In the past a nation could survive with an unskilled labor force. However, the survival of the fittest in the twenty-first century will require a nation's masses to be educated in logical thinking, reasoning and modern skills. It is mostly through a college/university education that young citizens learn and acquire these skills. Unfortunately, this sector in Pakistan is amongst the weakest in the modern nations. We believe that if you don't give people an education you're robbing them of their liberty.
There is an urgent need for universities where both undergraduate and graduate quality education is available. Currently less than 4% of young Pakistanis in the age group of 17-24 years are enrolled in a college or university. The participation rate for the same age group in developed countries is around 50%. Pakistan has 51% of the population under the age of 21, which is a great asset for the country. If harnessed and provided appropriate opportunities they can change the face of Pakistan for times to come. Ironically this is also true for if – then –else situation; without direction, opportunities and resources they can take the society and the country to a dooms day scenario. At present there are over 133 public and private universities/ chartered institutions in the country. The standard of education in the public sector, especially in science and technology, is modest. Quality education is limited to only a few institutions. Most of these institutions are private, profit-making and are beyond the reach of all except a very small percentage. Thus, there is both a strong and an urgent need for institutions where quality education can be made available to young men and women, especially from economically disadvantaged families.
Institutions are not charitable, people are. When we make institutions charitable we cannot ensure their sustainability, thus consigning them to the dustbin of history. The Board and the college have made the commitment to face the challenge and make a surplus to invest for the future and students will be able to raise loans from the fund once they are accepted. Admission will be strictly on merit – a highly symbolic principle in a country rife with patronage and influence peddling. The message is simple; every student must know that every other student has got in on the basis of their merit.
WEC holds a need blind admission policy i.e. it does not discriminate on the basis of financial strength of the individual while admitting a student, the process which is based purely on merit. Fulfilling its responsibility towards the society, today WEC gives 6 percent of its turn over as fee waivers and aid to students in need. Toppers in each discipline and semester are rewarded with merit scholarship taking care of their complete tuition fee. At any point in time over 12 percent of student body at WEC are availing some form of financial support. The institution is consistently trying to include other stakeholders in the community to help with this important task through various endowments and scholarship programs. This institution of student loan is a part of the endeavor for providing financial assistance to students and we hope to see the program being expanded.
This structured student loan facility, is first of its kind being offered. This is in line with the vision to provide financial assistance to talented students while maintaining financial viability of the product. The program will benefit the students who are unable to get higher education due to financial constraints. Following transparent procedures and best practices the scheme in the beginning will cover tuition fee of the students. The students will be provided loan on interest free basis with the condition of returning as soon as they become independent and get jobs. A mechanism will be in place at the institution level to verify the financial conditions of the students to make the program more transparent.
The loan facility will be pivotal for students who are currently financially unable to afford the cost of tuition and living facilities. This venture is a testimony to POF’s commitment to support quality higher education.
Under the scheme the students are eligible to apply for loans provided:
- He/She has obtained admission on merit through normal course/procedure at WEC
- He/She has secured 80% marks in the last public examination
- He/She is not more than 22 years old
- He/She is unable to pursue studies due to financial constraints
The Loan facility will be available for entire duration of the stay on successfully maintaining CGPA 2.5 or above. The facility at later stages will also cover besides schedule fees, boarding expense less meal charges and allowance for books (the fees and boarding expense will be directly paid to the College).
Repayment of Loan
The maximum period of repayment of loan is 10-Years from the date of disbursement of first installment. The beneficiary shall be encouraged to repay the loan as early as possible. Latest should be in monthly installments (minimum of Rs 10,000/-) after six months from the date of first employment or one year from the date of completion of studies, whichever is earlier.
To ensure no undue burden is placed on the recipients of this assistance repayment plan can also be strictly income based (25% of the pre-tax income (this will earn him the tax rebate also) for minimum of initial seven years after graduation). The only burden of evidence required from beneficiaries of the programs shall be copies of their national income tax returns (hence promoting the national responsibility of paying/ filing annual tax return also).
It is also hoped that this will be the starting point for the beneficiaries for role reversal and be the contributories to this and such like funds.
Maintenance of Fund
A university/college or school can at best be only as good as the resources it has at its disposal. For this purpose WEC Student Loan Fund has been established with a seed money of Rs 6.0 Million. Acknowledging that such a fund must be sustainable, that it acts in a manner which partners with students, and is an attractive prospect for future donors it will be assured that:
- Any amounts that are invested into the fund shall not be eligible for withdrawal and expense for any purpose. This is also the basic principle of operation for any endowment fund.
- In the interest of ‘partnering’ with students and to be able to increase the size of the fund to allow a maximum number of students to be benefitted by it the fund shall only provide interest-free loans to eligible students with a priority on need basis.
- To increase the attractiveness of this fund to its donors as well as its beneficiaries, all funds managed by the trust shall be placed within recognized Islamic Financial institutions to ensure compliance with Sharia principles.
- Moreover, as the amount of income generated by any Islamic Investment is not guaranteed, principally all payments to the College shall be made on a lump-sum basis at the beginning of the students 4 year program. Discounts (10%) from the College in lieu of early lump-sum payments is being worked out to assist further increase the number of possible beneficiaries further or offset periodic increase in fees/ expenses.
- The seed money will be able to sustain four engineering students in perpetuity. Wah Engineering College will donate Rs 1.5 Million each year to the fund to extend the loan facility to an additional student for at-least first eight years of institution of the fund. The Trust shall be mandated to aggressively seek new and different donors in an attempt to cover as many students as possible. The donations sought preferably should be in multiples of Rs 1.5 Million (the number established to support one engineering student in perpetuity).
- There are other endowment funds that exist as well, most importantly the PEEF which will also be tapped into to provide quality education to the students.
Student Support Fund
The student repayments shall start coming after a minimum period of 4½ to 5 years, then the number of students affected each year thanks to the initial seed money contributed should ideally start to increase substantially.
Moreover to offset any influence of inflation at least 10% of income generated as well as any surplus amount available after disbursement of payments shall be reinvested into the endowment fund.
Trust to Manage Student Loan
To manage the Student Loan Fund a Board of Trustees has been established. Trust is being headed by Chairman POFs Board. The other members be:
- Principal WEC;
- Chairman Fee Concession Committee WEC;
- MD POF Welfare Trust;
- Director Administration POFs;
- Secretary POFs Board.
Security of Funds
We have already partnered with Fauji Fertilizer Company (FFC) who have pledged to support four students initially. As a holistic process the students will be from the area where their factories operate and/ or from schools which they have adopted and after securing admission on merit and fulfilling other criterion they will be afforded the opportunity of student loan and on successful completion of the program they will have the privilege to serve at FFC. We look forward towards other major corporation and semi and autonomous bodies to come forward and follow the lead. You support the students financially for quality education and we will give you and the country academically accomplished socially responsible and enlightened engineers. You fulfill the corporate social responsibility and we will engineer Pakistan.
Success of the Project will pave way for extension of the program. The Partner bank in consultation with the Board of Trustees for the Fund may also suggest conditions to assure a reasonable percentage of refund. It is mainly a ‘TRUST’ based arrangement with a hope that additional donors will far outweigh the defaulters, if any.
Transparency in the maintenance of Fund will be the key to attract substantial donors. Once this has been established and we find donors who may be willing to sponsor four or more students establishment of multiple funds under the management of the trust with the rules of each governed by donor intent (should only be established if the donor is large enough or several enough in number to justify the effort of operating an extra fund) will be formed.
There has to come a time when the private sector has to say, we're going to take responsibility with the sense of upholding the social responsibility. The plan will work as the college will hold its head high nationally /internationally. We want to be world class. We must feel that we can get a world-class institution here and produce first class people. With no compromise on standards, the college will attract students from the region and from the large Pakistani diaspora, as well as from the country itself. But it will be a while to reach that goal.
Your patronage, guidance and donations are solicited to make the program a success.
It's truly a start-up. This is academic entrepreneurship.