HYDERABAD: The woes of Telugu students aspiring to pursue higher education in the United States of America seem never ending. Close to the heels of the deportation of 14 Indian students by US customs authorities and the decision of Air India to stop students from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana pursuing courses at two California- based univeristies, which are under ‘scrutiny’, Etihad Airways also barred another batch of 20 students from boarding a flight to the US on Tuesday. The students who arrived at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) Tuesday evening were shocked to learn that their tickets have been cancelled. Further, the Airlines also reportedly demanded Rs 14,000 from the students as cancellation charges.
The airline officials claimed that like Air India, they too have received official communication from the US government informing them about the blacklisting of two universities - Silicon Valley University (SVU) and the Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU). Mohemmed Imran, a student from Hyderabad, told Express, “The Etihad officials informed that our tickets have been cancelled. They said, there is a mail from the US government asking them not to allow any students pursuing studies at SVU and NPU to proceed.”
Refusing to go back, the students decided to stay on the Airport premises until they were allowed to board the flight. Many students are learnt to have already paid huge amount for admission. Ameer, a student from Hyderabad, who secured admission in NPU, said: “I have paid $ 7,000 to the university as my fee for first semester. Another Rs 3 lakh has been spent towards the paper work. Who will refund my money if I lose this opportunity?,” he rued. I have no intention to cancel my ticket, he added. While the uncertainty over the accreditation of the California based universities remains unsolved, the central government has stepped in. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, on Tuesday, assured that the list of all universities blacklisted by the USA government will be announced soon. The government has already communicated with the officials concerned in USA and sought the list.
Upon receipt, the same list will be shared with the public through media. This development comes in the wake of her meeting with the Union minister for Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju and AP government’s representative in Delhi, Kambhampati Rama Mohana Rao on Tuesday in Delhi. Both the leaders from AP, raised the issue with the External Affairs Minister and sought her help in clearing the existing uncertainty over the fate of 200-odd Telugu students who secured admission in Silicon Valley University and North Western Polytechnic College. After the meeting, Sushma Swaraj Tweeted: “We have taken up deportation of Indian students admitted in SVU San Jose and NPU, Fremont with the US State Department. Their response is awaited.” She also emphasised that it is the priority of the Government to ensure that future of student’s is safeguarded. Kambhampati, on Monday, also spoke to the USA Ambassador in India, Richard Rahul Verma about the issue. Verma stated that US State and Homeland Security departments are investigating the issue and assured that all necessary actions will be taken to ensure students with valid I20 visa will not face any issues.