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Tuition fees still unpaid, SC-ST students ask… Where is our scholarship money, dear Gujarat govt?

June 25, 2020 07:44 AM

COURTESY MIRROR JUNE 25

Tuition fees still unpaid, SC-ST students ask…
Where is our scholarship money, dear Gujarat govt?
Nearly 10,000 college students are awaiting govt’s Post-matric SC-ST Scholarship that takes care of their tuition fees. Gujarat govt says these students have either given wrong details in forms or are not eligible as they were given spot admission or secured admission through mgmt quota
| Niyati.Rana@timesgroup.com | TWEETS @NiyatiMIRROR

Darshana, 20, was elated when she got admission in a Kadi college for diploma engineering in 2019 as she was the first in her family to enroll for the course. The college charges Rs 35,000 fee per annum. She is waiting for the scholarship money under Central government’s Post-Matric Scholarship for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students. Apart from yearly tuition fees that goes to college management, the government also provides a fixed amount to such students so they can buy books. However, neither has the scholarship amount been paid to the college nor has Darshana received the fixed amount despite three months since the March deadline.

She is among the 10,000 SC-ST students who enrolled in various courses across Gujarat’s colleges in 2019 but are still awaiting financial assistance. For SC students, 100% scholarship is given by Central government and for ST students 60% comes from Central government and 40% from State government. “We have made several representations to the authorities at district level but they only ask us to wait. My father is a cobbler and mother, a labourer. With my hope of getting scholarship money dashed, I have begun training as a nurse. A salary of Rs 4,000 salary will help me fund my own education,” said Solanki.


Staring at uncertain future

Similarly, Harshad, an MBA student from Anand, said the college has not asked them for the fee yet. “I got admission on regular seat for quota students. My college fee is Rs 56,000 per annum. My parents and my two elder brothers are labourers. We will not be able to pay the money if the government doesn’t pay the scholarship money. I am worried about completing my education now,” he said, raising concerns.

Satish from Rajkot, who enrolled in diploma computer engineering course, said that even as the scholarship money goes to college, the students get a certain amount in their account. “It may be around Rs 4,000 a year but it still helps us buy reference books and enroll in libraries. We have made a representation to district and college authorities but the financial benefits are not yet disbursed,” he said. Just like these students, even the self-financed colleges and universities in Gujarat have also been waiting eagerly to receive funds from the state government.

‘We were not informed during admissions’

President of Parul University Devanshu Patel said the varsity has to receive Rs 62 lakh for ST students and Rs 1.46 crore for SC students from the government. “So far, we have managed to bear the education cost of these students. Usually, we get the money by March, latest. There was no issue till last year but this year authorities have said they will not pay for SC-ST students who were given spot admission. This was not informed at the time of admission. When a reserved category student approaches us with a freeship card, we are bound to give them admission and the situation will be difficult if we do not get scholarship money,” he said.

Colleges await money

He said they have raised the concerns and are waiting to hear from the government. Though the scholarship money is disbursed by Gujarat government’s Social Justice and Empowerment Department, the issue was also raised by the Self-Financed College Association during a meeting held by Education Department in the first week of June.

Janak Khandwala, president of the association, said it has become difficult for SFI colleges to survive without disbursement of scholarship money at a time when they are supposed to not even collect entire semester fees during the pandemic.

“Neither the state government nor the central government has announced grants for the education sector in Covid-19 package. We do not force students to pay fees but we have to pay our teachers their salary. Government may not announce a special package for the education sector but it is well within our rights to get disbursement on time,” said Khandwala.

Scholarships can be availed through Freeship Card or without Freeship Card. Director of SAL Institute of Technology said they have received disbursement of scholarship money for Freeship Card holders in May but they have not yet got the money for non-Freeship Card beneficiaries.

Partial disbursement due to lack of grant money

An official with the Social Welfare department said issue of partial disbursement is also because of lack of grant money with the department.“Nationally, Rs 309 crore is allocated for this. Gujarat is running short of grants to pay the scholarship money. We have not received a grant for the last three years from the central government. Even without this support, we have spent Rs 295 crore towards the students,” the official said. He said, as per new rule, students given spot admission or admission through management quota will not be given the scholarship money.

Even ‘eligible’ students yet to receive scholarship

Secretary of Diploma SFI College Association Jitendra Upadhyay disagrees. “We know of students who got admission through proper process conducted by admission committee and have yet not got the scholarship amount. If a student in Rajkot is paid for, students in Mehsana too have to get the benefits. These students will not be able to afford education otherwise and will drop out. Government must stop its discriminatory approach in paying for beneficiaries of the scholarship,” he said. Sources told Mirror that an estimated 10,000 students have not received the scholarship. This, because they either provided wrong bank details in forms or because they are not entitled for it as per the Centre’s 2018 notification.

Students may have to pay their own fees

Manoj Aggarwal, Principal Secretary for Social Justice and Empowerment Department, said that as per Government of India’s directive in 2018, they are not supposed to give scholarship to students who were given spot admission or are enrolled in management seats.

“The universities were provided information about the guidelines. As per GoI directive, the scholarship is only for merit-based admission done by the admission committee. If colleges give admissions to these students on vacant seats (after the admission committee closes admission rounds), they are not entitled to get a scholarship,” he said. His department is responsible for disbursal of grants to SC students.

This means, students who have not been provided scholarship till now and have got admission on the management seats and through spot admission may have to pay their own fees. Aggarwal said, considering the situation and the concerns of students who fear missing out on scholarship money, the department has written to the Central government. “We have sought permission to grant scholarship to students deprived of the benefit under GoI guidelines but have already secured admissions in colleges and universities. If and when we get a go-ahead from GoI, we will disburse the money to educational institutes,” he said. Anupam Anand, Secretary of Tribal Development Department,which disburses scholarship money to ST students, was unavailable for comment

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