KOZHIKODE: It has been a tumultuous journey for 25-year-old Hafeesha T B from a poor family in Thrissur to get admission to the master's programme at the University of Sussex, England.
A journalism degree rank-holder and MA in Communication from the Central University of Hyderabad, her academic profile catapulted her into Sussex, which is at 146th position in the global ranking. But all this academic profile seems to be insignificant for the Kerala State Backward Classes Development Corporation (KSBCDC) as it denied Hafeesha its OBC overseas scholarship citing 'high annual income'.
As many as 21 students were selected for the scholarship for 2020-21 among the 230 applicants. “I was shell shocked to find that I was excluded. Among the 21, only eight are studying in universities which come in the 1-200 ranking. The other 13 have enrolled in universities which fall in the 201-600 ranking. According to the government order of 2014, only students pursuing courses in universities ranked from one to 200 shall be given the scholarship. The selection process was in violation of rules,” she alleged, citing RTI responses.
"It had also laid down weightage for field experience which the selection committee ignored. The logic of dismissing an applicant having PG was another violation," she said.
Hafeesha had worked with subaltern groups in five states and presented papers in many national and international conferences. Recently her article on the tribal education project of Wayanad was published by the British Council, Thailand.
All hopes were on scholarship
Hafeesha had pinned all her hopes on the scholarship to complete her studies.
“I came to the UK after mortgaging my BPL family's only five cents of land. I have been struggling here, doing part-time jobs to survive. But all my efforts are now in vain. The authorities say that scholarship was provided to students having an annual income up to Rs 48,000. Mine was Rs 50,000," she said.
"It’s easy to secure admission in low-ranking foreign universities. Many students seek admission in such universities for migrating to other countries," she added.
"I am on the verge of suicide. I had overcome all the obstacles in life with my passion for academics. It's my third rental accommodation in UK within a year due to financial issues. I will not be complaining if all those who had got scholarships are studying in high-ranking universities or having an excellent academic backgrounds," she added.
Hafeesha had sent mails to many including Governor, Chief Minister, Higher education minister, and is waiting for a favourable response.
Income the final criteria: Dept
When TNIE contacted KSBCDC, the superintendent said it was based on a government order that the income was considered over merit.
"The OBC candidates having less than Rs 6 lakh annual income can apply as per the rules. However, we have been allotted only Rs 1.10 crore for providing scholarships for 2020-21. The final selection is not being done by the department, but a high-level government committee," he explained.
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