The SC/ST students at the Indira Gandhi National Open University will have to now pay for their courses and only expect a reimbursement. IGNOU experimented with a full fee waiver scheme in 2018 but decided to drop it after it overshot its budget, so much that it is forced to ask the MHRD for funds.
In its statement, IGNOU said SC/ST students will no longer have fee exemption but will have to apply for reimbursement through an online portal to be instituted by the Students Registration Divison. The University cancelled the exception after being forced to ask for Rs 32.8 crores to the Ministry of Human Resource Development after overshooting its budget.
The SC/ST students will now have to find a way to pay for their courses, which can prove to be too much of a burden to them. Especially because most Universities in the country are known to delay reimbursement for months together. This could discourage prospective students from even applying fearing the financial burden.
However, in a statement on Sunday, the University stated that it would develop an online portal for the smooth facilitation of reimbursement under the SCSP/TSP (Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan) scheme. But until the portal is properly functioning, the process will be managed offline.
The scheme will be extended to the following programme — fresh admissions to the Bachelor Degree Programme (BDP i.e. B.A., B.Com and B.Sc.), Bachelor Preparatory Programme (BPP), re-registration in BDP (BA, BCom, BSc), Bachelor of Social Work and Bachelor Tourism Studies for students registered from the July 2015 cycle.
In a statement to the Indian Express, Vikas Kumar, Assistant Registrar of the Student Registration Division, said, “Last year, our expenditure exceeded our budget. So we have asked the MHRD for Rs 32.89 crore. As per data available to us, it also seems — though we are unsure — that in many study centres last year, fake admissions also took place, as enrollment of SC/ST students went up drastically. This was also a reason for our funds being spent."
(This article was originally published in Edexlive)