The Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) for Jammu and Kashmir, launched in 2011 to help bright students from the troubled state go for higher education to peaceful zones across the country, seems to have done them more harm than good.
Azra Hamid, Priya Chib, Khan Junaid Ul Islam, Kanchan Bala and hundreds of other students stand to lose an academic year – all because of the government’s failure to properly implement the PMSSS.
For the first three years after the scheme was launched, hundreds of private universities reached out to the students allegedly to grab their grants (awarded for various categories and ranging from Rs. 1.3 lakh to Rs. 4 lakh per student). Many of these universities were only interested in money and did not offer quality education. By 2014-15, however, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which implements PMSSS, decided to grant provisional admission to the students through its own counselling, keeping private universities out of the scheme.
Things went further downhill from there.
Azra Hamid, who belongs to Kulgam, scored 97.6% in Class 12, securing third position in the entire state. Though she got admission to the Women’s College, Anantnag, Hamid applied for PMSSS, hoping for better opportunities. Much to her joy, after the AICTE counselling held in Srinagar, she was told that she was eligible for admission to the Vijayanagara Institute of Medical Sciences, Bellary, Karnataka. “I cancelled my admission in Anantnag and went to Bellary, where I was denied admission. So far, there has been no response to my complaint letter (see story below) to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). If I don’t get admission to a good college this year, I will lose an academic year,” says Hamid.
Priya Chib, who scored 94% marks in Class 12, was contacted by an NGO which directed her to seek admission in the Azamgarh Dental College and Hospital under the scholarship scheme. “Once in Azamgarh, I was told that the AICTE would conduct counselling sessions and allot provisional admissions. I came back to Srinagar, went for counselling and was allotted Maitreyi College. Once there, however, the authorities refused to honour the AICTE letter saying that they were not aware of any such scheme,” says Chib.
More than one hundred students who were asked to join Delhi University (DU) colleges complain that they received no help despite making the effort to travel to Delhi from J-K, staying in the Capital for almost 15 to 20 days (some even seeking shelter in gurdwaras as they had no money) and doing the rounds of the offices of the DU vice-chancellor, University Grants Commission and AICTE.
All about the scheme
In August, 2011, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the ‘Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme’ for 5,000 students from Jammu and Kashmir. It was proposed that they be sent to other states for higher studies every year for five years
The scholarship amount for each student varies from Rs. 1.3 lakh to Rs. 4 lakh depending on the various courses such as general degree, medical and engineering offered
Till 2013, private universities competed with each other to enroll as many scholarship holders as they could not access the grant money. However, the quality of education such universities offered became a major cause for concern as most of the institutes were interested only in making money from the grants
For the academic session 2014-15, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which had the mandate to implement the scheme, restricted the number of students to two intakes per college. AICTE, in its counselling session in September 2014 allocated colleges to 2102 students on the basis of the marks they scored in Class 12. Private universities were kept out
Delhi University colleges refused to admit the students, said they did not have information on the scheme
I was offered a seat in ST Bede’s College, Shimla, which is a women’s college. instead of helping me, aicte offcials harassed me ---- Ishtiyaq Ahmad Bhat, student
I was allotted Sri Venkateswara College. However, my letter was not honoured as the college was not aware of the scheme --- Kanchan bala, student