Role of Higher Education Loans Board

The Higher Education Loans Board Act stipulates the functions of the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) in Kenya. HELB is a state agency under the Ministry of Education.

The major function of the Higher Educations Loans Board (HELB) is to provide affordable loans, bursaries and scholarships to Kenyans pursuing higher education. HELB supports mainly the needy students to access university education.

The Higher Education Loans Board is the successor to the Higher Education Loans Management Board established by the Higher Education Loans Fund Act (now repealed).

Membership of Higher Education Loans Board

The membership of the Higher Education Loans Board should consist of—

  • a Chairman appointed by the President;
  • the Secretary to the Commission for Higher Education;
  • Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education or their representative;
  • Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance or their representative;
  • the Chairman of the Vice-Chancellors Committee for Public Universities;
  • a representative of the Vice-Chancellors or Principals of the Private Universities;
  • the Executive Director of the Federation of Kenya Employers;
  • the Chairman of the Kenya Bankers Association;
  • two other persons appointed by the Cabinet Secretary for Education; and
  • such other persons, not more than three, as the Board may co-opt from time to time.

The Cabinet Secretary for Education should appoint the Chairman of the Vice-Chancellors Committee for Public Universities, the representative of the Vice-Chancellors or Principals of the Private Universities, the Executive Director of the Federation of Kenya Employers, and the Chairman of the Kenya Bankers Association.

The members of the Board other than ex officio members should hold office for a period of five consecutive years and may be eligible for re-appointment.

The office of a member of the Board should fall vacant—

  • if not being an ex officio member, the member submits their resignation in writing under their hand to the appointing authority through the Secretary;
  • if the Board is satisfied that such a member is by reason of their physical or mental infirmity (physical or mental weakness) unable to execute the functions of their office;
  • if the member has been adjudged bankrupt by a competent court of law or has committed a criminal offence which directly or otherwise reflects adversely on their status as a member of the Board; or
  • upon the death of a member.

Where the office of a member becomes vacant, the Secretary should forthwith notify the vacancy to the appointing authority for appropriate action.

Secretary to the Board

The Cabinet Secretary for Education should appoint a Secretary to the Board. The Secretary should be the chief executive of the Board and should be responsible for the management of the day-to-day activities of the Board.

The Secretary should hold office for six years and should be eligible for re-appointment.

The Secretary should be the head of the Secretariat and should be responsible to the Board in ensuring that the Secretariat satisfactorily carries out duties and performs functions the Board assigns to it.

The Secretary should be an ex officio member of the Board and should have no right to vote at the meetings of the Board.

Functions of the Higher Education Loans Board

The functions of the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) should be to—

  • formulate sound policies to regulate the management of the Higher Education Loans Fund;
  • solicit for funds and other assistance to promote the functions of the Board;
  • set the criteria and conditions governing the granting of loans including the rate of interest and recovery of loans;
  • receive any gifts, donations, grants or endowments made to the Board, and to make legitimate disbursements from there;
  • establish and maintain links with other persons, bodies or organisations within or outside Kenya, as the Board may consider appropriate to further the purposes of the Board;
  • enter into contracts with financial institutions for loans disbursement and recovery;
  • grant loans out of the Higher Education Loans Fund either with or without security, as the Board may deem fit, to any eligible person to enable them, or assist any student, to meet the cost of higher education;
  • determine the maximum number of eligible persons or students to grant loans in any one particular year;
  • to invest any surplus funds not currently in use for the purpose of the Board in any investment authorised by law for the investment of trust funds with power from time to time to vary or realize those investments;
  • set up and expend (spend or use up) such other funds as may from time to time be required, with the consent of the Cabinet Secretary for Education;
  • receive and consider all loan applications from eligible persons or students wishing to be considered for the award of higher education loans, and to approve, withhold or reject such requests in accordance with the provisions of the HELB Act;
  • borrow such monies from such sources and in such amounts as the Cabinet Secretary for Education may approve with the concurrence of the Treasury and to secure such loans in such manner as the Board deems fit;
  • take out insurance cover for risky loans such as death, incapacity or inability to pay, as the Board deems fit;
  • establish and award bursaries and scholarships which it may consider necessary for the promotion of the objectives and functions of the Higher Education Loans Board;
  • perform any other functions relating to the granting of students’ loans in accordance with the provisions of the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) Act; and
  • perform and exercise all other functions and powers the HELB Act confers on the Board.

The purpose of the (Higher Education Loans) Fund should be to provide funds for granting loans to assist Kenyan students to pursue higher education at such institutions within and outside Kenya, recognized by the Commission for Higher Education.

Section 11 of HELB Act

Powers of the Higher Education Loans Board

The Board should be capable in its corporate name of—

  • suing and being sued;
  • taking, purchasing or otherwise acquiring, holding, charging and disposing of movable and immovable property;
  • taking, purchasing or otherwise acquiring, holding, charging or disposing of movable and immovable property
  • entering into a contract;
  • borrowing and lending money;
  • doing or performing all such other things or acts necessary for the proper performance of its functions under the HELB Act, and which a body corporate may lawfully do or perform.

For more about the Higher Education Loans Board, see the HELB Act and visit their website at helb.co.ke.

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George Githinji

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