The Higher Education Commission (HEC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) celebrated the launch of the online scholarship disbursement portal for the USAID-funded Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship (MNBSP) program that includes 30 partner universities across Pakistan. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the same was signed between HEC and NBP.
This online system is part of USAID’s multi-year $ 36 million Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Programme. It is the first programme at HEC to adopt an online disbursement mechanism.
Under this programme, students will be issued ATM cards so as to facilitate them in withdrawal of funds for both tuition payments and living expenses. In this connection, NBP accounts have been opened for 1,470 awardees at 30 partner universities throughout Pakistan. First payments using the new system will be made during next week.
Addressing the ceremony, Dr. Arshad Ali, Executive Director, HEC said,
“The conventional methods of stipend disbursement have involved lengthy procedures at the partner universities, which frequently delayed stipend release to the scholarship recipients. Now, through the new online stipend disbursement mechanism, students will receive payments directly into their bank accounts, ensuring maximum efficiency.”
In his remarks, Saeed Ahmad, President, NBP lauded the efforts of HEC for adopting the online banking system replacing conventional procedures to disburse funds in speedy manner. He said that Scholarship funds means a lot to the students and he was pleased that NBP through its Asaan Account has given the facility to the scholarship awardees of this programme to open their accounts anywhere in Pakistan.
“No doubt it will be a huge relief for the students”, he added.
On the occasion, Erica Rounsefell, Acting Director, Office of Education, USAID Pakistan lauded HEC for partnering with USAID throughout the programme. “This is a remarkable achievement that brings not only efficiency, but also greater security and transparency to the scholarship payment process. We look forward to continue to work with HEC to assist student access to higher education,” she emphasized.
Since 2002, HEC has been playing its significant role for development of the higher education sector in Pakistan. Its efforts have been focused on ensuring access to quality tertiary education for youth and promoting relevant research. The USAID Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Programme has been supporting the goal of HEC since 2004 to provide quality education and make it accessible to talented students who cannot afford the cost of higher education. More than 5,300 scholarships have so far been awarded to students from rural areas and less-developed regions such as FATA, South Punjab, Rural Sindh, and Balochistan, while 50 per cent of slots are reserved for women.