Chennai: As many as 40,000 students from scheduled caste (SC) category admitted under management quota in self-financing engineering colleges last year are now facing uncertain future due to the extraordinary delay by the state government in disbursing the post-matric scholarship.
The odd semester exams for engineering students across the state began on Thursday.Due to the delay of one and a half year in paying the fees, the college managements have resorted to various ways to collect the fees from students including withholding their hall tickets for semester exams, students alleged.
Under the post-matric scholarship (PMS) scheme, the SC students with annual family income of less than Rs.2,50,000 are provided scholarships which cover various expenses including tuition fees and maintenance allowance.
Saranya*, a second-year student from a Coimbatore based engineering college, said, “I have joined the engineering college under management quota in the hope of availing the post-matric scholarship. Due to the non-payment, the college authorities withheld my hall ticket until the last minute. They urged me to pay the fees as the state government is delaying the scholarship.”
After much pleading they finally allowed her to write the exam on Thursday. But, they again collected the hall ticket after finishing the exam.
Hailing from Tirunelveli district, she had scored 1,024 marks in her plus-2 exams. Some of the students said their parents are urging them to discontinue their courses.
“My college did not allow the post-matric scholarship (PMS) students to do the lab exams along with regular students. We were made to stand outside the labs and they allowed us at the last minute,” Vidya*, another student from the Coimbatore region said. She scored 921 marks out of 1,200 in her plus-2 exams.
But, soon after completing the school, her parents wanted her to work to support the family. She said she was able to join engineering college only because of this scholarship.
“After informing the college's demand, now my mother is asking me to discontinue the course as we cannot afford to pay the fees under management quota,” she said.
Suganya*, another student from an engineering college in Kancheepuram district said her college is pressurising the SC students in different ways. “We were often told to vacate our hostel even for some small holidays. They are repeatedly telling us to get no dues certificate which causes us the mental agony. It is not possible for our parents to pay over Rs 1 lakh,” she said. She is pursuing aeronautical engineering.
Meanwhile, the state government disbursed all other scholarships including the scholarship for first graduate students. It is not showing any urgency in giving the post-matric scholarship to SC students, students claimed.
Some students said they have done everything in their capacity to get the scholarship. “We have given representations to the district collectors, protested in Chennai and conducted the press conference. Still, the state government is not disbursing the scholarship,” they said.
Hundreds of students who have passed out from engineering colleges this year yet to receive their certificates including degree certificates and mark sheets as the state government yet to pay their scholarship fully.
Dharmaraj, who have completed engineering in May 2018 said, “I could not get my original certificates including TC as the state government withheld the 10% of scholarship without giving any reason.” He studied at Oxford Engineering College in Tiruchi.
One of the trustees of a private engineering college near Chennai said, “The engineering colleges financially crippled due to the pending of post-matric scholarship funds. We are not able to commit to providing quality education as we lack funds.”
Except for the top 100 engineering colleges, the other colleges are relying on PMS for their survival. “We did not get our salaries for the past two, three months and not sure when we will get it,” a faculty member of a self-financing engineering college said.
The issue started when fee-fixation committee revised the fees for government quota seats and management quota seats in self-financed colleges last year. The fees for government quota seats increased from Rs.40,000 to Rs.50,000 and for management quota seats it was hiked from Rs.70,000 to Rs.85,000.
The government has passed orders reducing the post-matric scholarship in the form of GO numbers 51 and 52 which stated that the government quota fees only be paid for students admitted under the management quota.
“Those government orders were stayed by the high court and the payment should have been made as per the old pattern. Even if the government wants to stand on its legalistic position, they could have made the payment as per the government orders saying the balance would be made subject to the court order. But, they have done neither of the two and kept the whole scholarship amount pending which is the attempt to cripple the SCs,” said R.Christodas Gandhi, former additional chief secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu.
Due to the non-payment, now many engineering colleges have started to pressurize the SC students admitted under management quota. However, still, some colleges said they have not put any pressure on the students.
“Not only engineering colleges, but the PMS scholarship is also pending for students studying in BEd and other professional colleges, arts and science colleges are also yet to get their scholarships,” Mr Gandhi said.
When contacted, top officials from Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare department said they have not heard any complaints from the students on withholding hall tickets. “The scholarship has been partly distributed. The balance amount will be released as soon as the finance department gives its clearance,” they said.
Sources said the state government has given the scholarship to students studying in government and government-aided colleges.
What is the issue?
The issue started when fee-fixation committee revised the fees for government quota seats and management quota seats in self-financed colleges last year. The fees for government quota seats increased from Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 and for management quota seats it was hiked from Rs 70,000 to Rs 85,000. In 2016-17, the government has allocated Rs 1,500 crore towards post-matric scholarship to SC students.
There are also allegations that somecolleges have faked records to claim the scholarship meant for SC students.
The state government has passed orders reducing the post-matric scholarship in the form GO numbers 51 and 52 stating that the government quota fees only be paid for even students admitted under the management quota. But the High Court has stayed both the government orders.
During the 2012-13 academic year, the enrollment of SC students is only around 2,500 and totally, 10,000 students alone were pursuing engineering in all the four years.. After the introduction of post-matric scholarship, the number of students joining engineering and other courses significantly increased. Last year, 40,000 students joined the engineering courses and in total 1.5 lakh students are pursuing engineering in four years. It also increased the Gross Enrollment Ratio of SC students to over 40% in the state,”
— M.Bharathan, state convener, AKAM foundation which is creating awareness among SC students about higher education.
After government orders were stayed by the High Court and the payment should have been made as per the old pattern. Even if the government wants to stand on its legalistic position, they could have made the payment as per the government orders saying the balance would be made subject to the court order. But, they have done neither of the two and kept the whole scholarship amount pending which is the attempt to cripple the SCs,” — R.Christodas Gandhi, former additional chief secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu....