Scholarship saga: Agency saves students stranded in Finland

Under the new agreement, the parents opened an account with the Standard Bank, where money would be remitted to the Finnish institutions.

"Our children in Finland were on the verge of being thrown out because an entity we had trusted as our guarantor failed us. We had to find a way of salvaging the situation and we approached the private entity, which negotiated with the universities on our behalf," said Mary Too, a parent of a second-year student pursuing nursing at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences.

"As a parent, I'm now at peace because our children will not be deported. We have been asked to pay fees by May, and that is our main focus for now."

Ms Too claimed many parents received distress calls from their children as early as September last year, but the situation worsened late last month after some institutions terminated their agreement with Uasin Gishu County after the lapse of an ultimatum issued in February.

"We held a meeting with affected parents on Monday and greed that Maxglobal Group was the link between us and the Finnish universities. The private entity is now our new guarantor, taking the place of Uasin Gishu County," she said.

Another parent, Barnabas Murey, said they now expect the county government to release Sh150,000 to each student.

Mr Murey said besides tuition and accommodation fees, each student had paid the money to the trust fund account as agency fee.

"Many parents had paid school fees to the fund's account, but they can't access that money now because the account is under investigation. We have signed a deal with a private company so that our children continue learning. Many of us sold land and organised fundraising drives for our children to study abroad, and we have to make sure they complete their studies despite the challenges," he said.

According to Maxglobal CEO Cornelius Kiplagat, more than 300 Kenyan students are studying in Finland, but only those linked by the county face challenges.

He asked leaders to stop politicising education in foreign countries and instead push for more friendly deals.

"The 110 students are joining our programme after dissatisfaction with the county initiative. The Finnish institutions have waited for eight months, but the fees was not paid. They have been allowed to continue with their studies, and we continue to urge the universities to be patient as parents pay fees under the new program," said Mr Kiplagat on phone from Finland.

Peter Partulla, a coordinator at the Tampere Adult Education Centre, said the county linkage agreement was terminated after Uasin Gishu failed to remit tuition and accommodation fees paid by parents for nearly one academic year.

"We are engaging a private agency for the good of our learning institution, the students and their parents."