The decision has been finalised. From this year, a number of students from poorer sections will be able to enrol in engineering colleges. While, others would have to pay half the prescribed fees.
From this year onwards, 1,750 poor but meritorious students will be able to study at the private engineering colleges in the state free of cost, where as, 650 others would have to pay half tuition fees.
The state government had decided this year to allow private engineering colleges to admit students under the management quota. But at the same time, they were asked to offer 10 per cent free seats to needy students and another 5 per cent at half the cost to students of the same category.
"The government order in this regard will be sent to the relevant people within two days," said Sudarsan Roychoudhuri, the state higher education minister. The students who have a Below Poverty Level (BPL) card will be eligible under this scheme. However, those who do not have the BPL card but their family income is less then Rs 8,000 rupees per month will be eligible for applying for full waiver of the tuition fees.
And those students whose family's monthly income is not more then Rs 10,000 per month will be eligible to apply for the half tuition fee waiver. But the question now arises as to whether the government will bring out a separate list for such students before counselling.
"It will not happen like that. The candidates will come for counselling according to their rank obtained in the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination (WBJEE). When candidates apply for free-ship or half free-ship, their rank in WBJEE and also their economic background will be given weight," said A Bose, member secretary of the WBJEE board.
The students, however, will not be able to avail this facility during the counselling session, but will have to apply at the college while seeking admission. "The government order will also give stress on the admission of girl students who are below poverty line, but have been able to clear the WBJEE," said an official of the higher education department.
There are 62 private engineering colleges in the state. Now, obviously some colleges will be favoured over others by management quota students. The colleges where there is less demand will have the option to not offer the free and half-free seats.
"If some college does not take students under the management quota, then we will not be able to force them to take students under free-ship or half free-ship. But at the same time, colleges, which will have demand for management quota seats, will have to take in an equal number of students under free-ship and half free-ship," said Roychoudhuri.
The state government, however, is yet to form a monitoring agency to ensure that the colleges, which are taking students under the management quota, are offering tuition fee waiver to an equal number of poor students. This year, 45,000 students feature in the WBJEE merit list and counselling sessions are scheduled to begin on June 25.