PUDUCHERRY: The AINRC government has decided to limit the number of beneficiaries of the Perunthalaivar Kamarajar Financial Assistance Scheme for Medical and Engineering students (PKFAS).
According to a circular issued to all colleges by Director, Higher and Technical Education T Karikalan, the scheme will not cover all Centac-sponsored students of private engineering and medical colleges from the current academic year. Students sponsored to colleges that commenced in the current academic year will not get the benefits. Also, the scheme will not be applicable to students admitted to new courses and to seats enhanced by the institutions in the current year. This means that only students admitted to 13 engineering colleges and seven medical colleges in existing courses and seats will be eligible for the financial assistance.
Under the scheme, a student from the Union Territory studying medicine gets an assistance of `2.25 lakh per annum, while an engineering student gets `25,000 per annum.
Three engineering colleges that have commenced in the current year are - Avvaiyar College of Engineering and Technology for Women, Thiruvandarkoil; Raak College of Engineering and Technology, G N Palayam; and Srivenkateswara College of Engineering and Technology, Ariyur. No new private medical colleges have been started in the current year.
The circular to the private colleges had been issued in the context of private engineering and medical colleges directed not to collect tuition fee from students admitted through Centac in the current academic year and specifying the government’s policy. The government will be remitting the fee directly to the colleges in due course.
The increasing financial burden on the part of the government in implementation of the scheme and the constraints on finance had sparked off the move, sources said. At present, the government is spending around `44 crore annually on the implementation of the scheme. On an average, 1,026 medical and 7,000 engineering Centac students get the benefit annually. The scheme was extended to 2,045 engineering students admitted in 2011-2012, 2,378 students admitted during 2012-2013 and 1,851 students admitted during 2013-2014.
In the current year, the exact number would be known after counselling closes. Similarly, 264 medical students were admitted in the last three years.
The scheme was started in 2003 to support medical and engineering education in private colleges, as the UT did not have a medical college of its own and had only one engineering college in the government sector. There were four private medical colleges and an equal number of engineering colleges.
Ever since the implementation of the scheme, the number of private medical colleges has gone up to seven and private engineering colleges to 16, with three started this year. The government also started another engineering college at Karaikal (PKIT) and a medical college at Kadirkamam (IGMCRI). Hence, the financial implications for the scheme too went up.
The Congress government led by V Vaithilingam had amended the scheme by restricting the number of beneficiaries to around 250 MBBS students and 700 engineering students on the basis of merit. However, the AINRC amended the scheme after coming to power in 2011 and extended it to all students as part of it poll promise.
Now, the circular issued by the ruling AINRC government has to be ratified by amending the Government Order on PKFAS, for implementation.