CHENNAI: Activists fear that thousands of engineering students belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes may drop-out of colleges owing to a cut in government scholarship.Students and activists met reporters on Friday and expressed fear they will have to drop out, as they may not be able to afford higher education in private colleges without the scholarship.
The government through two orders (51 and 52) dated August 11, 2017, said students studying in self-financed engineering colleges will get the same scholarship fund that their counterparts in government-aided colleges are given. This came as a shock to an estimated 43,000 students from SC/ST community who enrolled in various engineering programmes in the State this year.”“We joined a private college only because we had this scholarship. If this scholarship is taken back, we will be forced to drop out,” said R Sivaranjani, a first-year engineering student from Kancheepuram district.
The Fee Fixation Committee, headed by Justice N V Balasubramaniyan, on June 22, 2017, proposed that accredited government-aided colleges and self-financed colleges charge a fees of Rs 55,000 and Rs 87,000 a year for students enrolled in 2017. Until 2016, the fees were fixed at Rs 45,000 and Rs 70,000 respectively. SC and ST students, who enrolled in 2016 could avail themselves of full scholarship for this amount fixed by the government, in both aided and private colleges.
However, through the government order issued last August, government said students enrolled through management quota from 2017 will receive only a maximum scholarship that equals the fee fixed for government colleges. This means that students will have to pay at least Rs 30,000 from their pockets.
M Isayaraja, an engineering student from Coimbatore, said he would not be able to afford going to college if his parents had to pay that fees.
Activists from Ambedkar Kalvi Centanary Movement (AKAM) alleged that less than five per cent of all seats are in aided colleges and that most students go to private colleges.“In 2012, there was a drastic rise in student enrolment because of the introduction of this scholarship. If this scholarship is reduced, it will not only create a spike in drop-out rate, but it will also significantly bring down the enrolment of SC/ST students,” said M Bharathan, the organisation’s State organiser.