After attending the counselling for engineering admissions at the Anna University recently, Dhanasekaran K was a happy man. His son was able to secure a seat in a college located near his house, in Manimangalam, and that too for a stream he badly desired, electronics and communication engineering. However, there was a caveat: he has to shell out an additional Rs18,000 by way of college transport charges, for a facility that he was not going to make use of at all. “I had only recently purchased a two-wheeler for him, so that he would not waste time commuting. That investment is now futile,” he rues.
Dhanasekaran could perhaps draw solace from the fact that he is not alone, and the issue is a pan-Tamil Nadu phenomenon. A good number of engineering colleges across the State stipulate paying of transport charges as compulsory and extract the same from students. This has, unsurprisingly, caused consternation among the parents, who feel that the option to exercise transport facilities must not be thrust on them. Thanigainathan, whose son has secured admission for a course in architectural engineering in a college located on OMR, states that this amounts to nothing less than short-changing. “As things stand, we shell out huge sums for our children’s education. I do not know why I have to pay for the college transport facility. Must we go on paying for whatever we are asked for?”
However, this is not to say that they are kept in the dark. The handbook provided by the Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions-2013, the agency that conducts the single-window counseling for the admissions, to those attending the counseling spells out whether the transport facility in the colleges are optional or compulsory. Details of minimum and maximum transport charges that the colleges can ask for annually are also provided, in addition to other charges.
However, City Express encountered that most such colleges in and around the city were not too forthcoming on the issue. A spokesperson for a college, however, defended the same, stating that as most such colleges are located in the outskirts, they earlier found it difficult to commence classes in time. “By having our own buses, we can ensure that the students arrive and leave college in a hassle-free manner.” The person, however, declined to comment on the need to make fees compulsory.
A senior Anna University official told City Express on condition of anonymity, that the charges are fixed after consultations with officials from the government and a fee fixation committee, and that the university is in no way involved in it. He admitted that there were a few parents who had lodged their protests over the issue.
“If the colleges are found to be charging in excess of what is stipulated, students can lodge a complaint with the Centre for Student Affairs in the varsity. “We will ensure that the management of such colleges are pulled up,” he said.