No refund, SC admissions in Punjab decline

Jalandhar, August 2: A four-year-long delay in reimbursement of grant to colleges under the “SC Post Matric Scholarship” scheme a whopping Rs 1,600 crore has hit enrolment of Scheduled Caste students in colleges across Punjab.

Any SC student whose parental income is less than Rs 2.5 lakh a year is eligible for the scholarship.

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Owing to monetary restraints, Monu, who has taken admission in BA, has opted to work in a restaurant after college hours. Another local student Gurjant Singh works as a plumber after classes. “Keeping up with the rest in studies is not easy since we often work till late in the evening,” they say.

The joint action committee (JAC), representing 1,550 colleges and polytechnics in the state, claims a 25-50 per cent drop in SC admissions this academic session, with the figure more dismal for technical and management colleges.

The JAC blames the Centre’s decision to credit the reimbursed amount in the student’s account, not that of the college, for it. College managements argue there is no way of knowing if the money has been transferred into a student’s account.

“We are yet to receive a grant of Rs 9.5 crore for SC students. Ten days ago, we had orders from the state as well as Guru Nanak Dev University to allow ‘free’ admissions. As of now, we are taking Rs 3,000 from all SC students.

Their eligibility under the scheme will be known only after the Department of Welfare opens its official portal,” said GS Samra, Principal of Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar.

DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology enrolled 80 SC students in BTech last year. This time their number has declined to 30, according to its principal Manoj Kumar.

Deepinder Sekhon of Quest Infosys Foundation Institutions, Kharar, says SC admissions have been down by 20 per cent and so does Dr Tejinder Singh Sidhu of Beant College of Engineering, Gurdaspur. However, the actual figures will be known by mid-August when admissions close.

Principal Sucharita of Apeejay College of Fine Arts, Jalandhar, says the High Court last year had ordered that colleges were free to charge SC students the admission fee. “We acted accordingly. Now, they have stopped coming to us. Our fee for graduate courses is Rs 60,000 per annum. But we are told we will be refunded money as per the charges in government colleges, which are a mere Rs 8,000 a year. Surely, we can’t fill the yawning gap.”

Ashwini Sekhri, chairman of a group of colleges in Batala, points out that admissions in the general category too have declined. “Therefore, the fall in SC admissions comes as no surprise.”

Source Tribune India