CHENNAI: Arjun (name changed) turned an 'entrepreneur' even before he completed his engineering course in a reputed college in the State. Studious in his first three years, he learnt the art of drawing students to private engineering colleges for a sum while in his fourth year in college. In the very first year, he struck gold by pocketing a cool Rs 50 lakh. Now he earns over Rs 5-6 crore. “He has expensive cars, goes to five-star hotels and is always surrounded by pretty girls,” says an envious batchmate. He also finished his UG in 2014.
This how attractive the business of admissions is. Agents can get you a seat in a top private engineering college even if the entrance exam is over.
With the admission process currently on, agents are looking to prey on the young students from other states. They charge in lakhs and the amount varies for stream to stream. They claim the amount is charged under management quota of the colleges. But the colleges say they have nothing to do with it.
When this Express reporter spoke to the agents as a student in disguise, one of them said, “A student should have the requisite marks to get admission. The entrance exams to the top private universities where you are looking for admission are already over. Nothing to worry. We can still get you admission in reputed colleges. You just have to pay a certain amount.”
When queried about the amount, the agent says, “It will come to more than Rs 2 lakh under the management quota for all top colleges. For different streams, different amounts.” He claims that for a particular university, it would cost Rs 2.9 to Rs 3 lakh. “Our team provides counselling to students after the entrance examination. We charge only Rs 10,000 for it,” he adds.
Another agent told Express that for the Electronics and Communication stream in two city universities, one should pay Rs 3.3 lakh. “For Master of Computer Applications (MCA) course, we charge Rs 2 lakh. All these are under the management quota of colleges. We can give admission to the stream of your choice if you are ready to spend that amount,” he says.
Some students who had passed out in 2014 from colleges of some city-based universities gave an interesting twist to the story. “We were cheated. The agents were actually our seniors in college, who hardly study throughout the semesters and are unable to get a job. They finally transform themselves as admission agents,” they said.
Ravi Prasad, who passed out in 2014, said he came to Tamil Nadu as his native Jharkhand had no reputed engineering colleges.
“I went for an education fair in Jharkhand and came across some agents. I did BCA from my State, but had plans to study in a reputed college so that I will get campus placement. Initially, these agents were so sweet. They gave me their contact number and later they began seeking money. They told me that I have to pay Rs 1 lakh for MCA. I told them about my poor background and that I cannot pay much. They then reduced it to Rs 50,000. After much bargaining, I paid them Rs 40, 000,” Prasad says.
Like him, many of his friends from Bihar, Kolkata, and Tripura were victims of admission agents. Sweta Kumari from Bihar, who passed out in 2014, says she was dependent on the agents as she had nobody to help in Chennai.
“These people cheated me big time. I was very naive then and my brother was in touch with these agents. The percentage of marks I had won’t fetch me admission in this university because they required 90 per cent, which I did not have. They charged Rs 1 lakh initially and after bargaining, it came down to Rs 50,000 for MCA,” she says.
“Many of my B Tech friends were charged Rs 2 lakh and above. The admission agents definitely have a tie-up with the college. They get commission from the colleges,” Kumari adds.
Rakesh (name changed), a Bihar native who studied in a city college, names two city universities as the hub of agents. “I came to know about this agent business from my friends who were cheated. So I pretended that I needed admission and sought help from agents, just to learn how much they were charging for each stream. They sought Rs 2 lakh for civil engineering. When I was in the fifth year, these agents, who were my seniors, tried to drag me into the business. But I refused to do so,” says Rakesh, who studied MCA.
Even students from the State were falling prey to these agents, he adds.
Some say even university students become full-time brokers during admission period. “If you want to get a seat in a particular university in Chennai, walk straight into the admission cell. There will be a lot of brokers on the campus, who will lure you for seats and get up to Rs 5 lakh. But the university does not accept any donation. If you want, you can bribe the employees of the admission cell and confirm your seat,” says Aravind C, a former student of the university.
“A professor in the Computer Science Department of a Coimbatore college told me to pay Rs 2 lakh for my son’s admission there,” claims Punitha M, a parent. “Later, we were shocked to learn that the admission cell of the college does not accept donation in any form,” she adds.
But universities in question say they had nothing to do with the agents. “We do not have any tie-up with the admission agents. For admission purposes, the students and their parents should directly contact the college and not depend on any agent. Our counselling got over on May 23 and I feel parents should enlighten themselves about such things,” says a university official.
The registrar of another college also toes the same line.
“I have been lodging police complaint against admission agents for the past three years. We do not have any tie-up with them. We have a genuine admission system and we don’t encourage such things,” the registrar details.
With inputs from Nivedha S