HYDERABAD: The finance department has frozen payment of Rs 3,816 crore fee reimbursement arrears of 12.5 lakh students in the state pursuing higher and professional education courses due to fund crunch.
These arrears have accumulated over the last two years. Students from poorer sections from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes, Economically Backward Classes and Minority categories took admission in these courses under merit quota relying on the fee reimbursement scheme.
The welfare departments of SC, ST, BC and Minorities are requesting the finance department to clear dues saying students are subjected to harassment by college managements and are not allowed to appear for exams. Some managements are holding back their original certificates even after completion of courses, they say.
Official sources said, "The finance department even issued tokens to welfare departments to release Rs 1,500 crore arrears of 2019-20 recently. But it later cancelled tokens all of a sudden and frozen payments citing fund crunch."
Incidents of alleged suicides by students are being reported from districts due to harassment by college managements with the latest one being reported on July 21 with a second-year engineering student dying by suicide after the college management refused to allow her to write exams due to fee arrears in Wanaparthy. The student was identified as 21-year-old Lavanya, studying at a Hyderabad-based engineering college.
SC and ST students whose annual family income is less than Rs 2 lakh and BC, EBC and Minority students whose annual family income is less than Rs 1.50 lakh in rural areas and less than Rs 2 lakh in urban areas are eligible to claim this benefit. Every year, nearly 5.45 lakh fresh students and 7.99 lakh renewal students claim the fee reimbursement.
The government needs to release Rs 2,300 crore per year. But the government released just Rs 784 crore for 2019-20 academic year and not a single paisa was released for 2020-21. Though 2021-22 academic year has begun, the students are yet to receive arrears of Rs 3,216 crore of the previous two years.
These funds are released directly to colleges. In the absence of funds for the last two years, the college managements are forcing students to pay fees on their own now and promising to return the same after the government clears arrears. Those students who fail to pay fees are allegedly subjected to harassment....