MUST sets up Endowment Fund to forever sustain teaching, research and needy students’ fees

Malawi’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima is expected to grace the official launch of the Endowment Fund in Lilongwe on Saturday, July 10, which Malawi University of Science & Technology (MUST) has set up that assures that teaching, research and needy students’ fees can be sustained forever.

This was disclosed by Director of Finance & Investment, MacDonald Hudge and Director of MUST Institute of Industrial & Innovation, Dr. David Mkwambisi during a press briefing held at MUST’s magnificent campus at Goliati in Thyolo on Tuesday, the Independence Day.

Hudge explained that the funding from government is not enough to sustain their services and took a leaf from foreign universities — especially from the USA where they weaned themselves from dependency on government subventions by establishing endowment funds.

Hudge (left) and Mkwambisi briefing the media on Tuesday

He said MUST has decided to take a similar approach as a strategy for diversifying revenue streams after taking cognizance that universities in Malawi have received annual donations from individuals and corporates in support of tuition fees and living expenses for students.

But “whilst this has for sure facilitated education of those supported, it has no assurance of its sustainability” and that it benefitted a few whilst the endowment fund is invested with financial institutions to yield interest to cater for its services.

The principal gift from the donor “is continually preserved and only the proportion of the yield is spent annually and given their permanence, this assures that teaching, research and service can be sustained forever while the donors legacy continually being recognised”.

“The support goes beyond the donors’ lifetime and the funds will continue to grow and beat inflation,” Hudge said.

On his part, Mkwambisi said students shouldn’t be allowed to withdraw because they cannot afford to pay their school fees as this is a loss of resources spent on such students by the university and a loss of human resource for the national agenda”.

“This is also in line with the Vision 2063 on industrialisation agenda and we want to be part of this where we see ourselves supporting the community that surrounds us.

“We have a magnificent institution here but the outlook of the community around us hasn’t change to match us as an institute of science and technology.”

The magnificent MUST at Goliati, Thyolo

The Endowment Trust’s brochure explains that the national budget allocation to higher education over the past five years has been between 20-28% of the total education budget — which is relatively a large share.

This notwithstanding, the allocation falls short of supporting the financial needs of the higher education sub-sector whose thrust is increasing access, improving quality of education and ensuring relevance of programs to the country’s needs as per National Education Sector Plan.

“As a result of the inadequate financial allocation, public universities have difficulties implementing planned activities, thereby affecting realization of the mandates — MUST has not been spared of this predicament.”

The launch will start on Saturday morning with a golf tournament which the Vice-President — himself a golfer — is expected to play and the official launch to be held at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC).

Corporates have been invited to field teams of four players and all participants are invited for the dinner at BICC where modalities of the Endowment Fund will be presented.

The benefits of the trust is that the donation survives the life of the giver, thus creating true legacy and that an individual donor has the priviledge of naming their gift to a family member, a friend, a special faculty member or themselves.

A donor is relieved of the burden of managing their funds and that MUST is contractually obligated to spend on the fund in accordance with the donor’s wishes and will give regular updates of how the fund is growing and being utilised.

A donor can increase their gift in installments and the minimum value of gifts is K20 million for corporates and K5 million for individuals. Nonetheless, the University may accept lower amounts as a gift for the general pool and the donors shall receive annual reports.

“All said, teaching and learning is the core activity for the mandate of MUST, it is therefore safe to state that students are the biggest beneficiary endowments.

“The fact that MUST Endowment Fund is held in perpetuity, the society at large benefits the most because, when students graduate, they engage in gainful employment or business and thus contribute to national development,” says the brochure, whose motto is ‘Create True Legacy’.

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