Scholarships have for long given the much-needed boost to students who couldn’t pursue their dreams of education owing to economic constraints. But most of the aid was meant for those who belonged to groups that have Constitution-mandated reservation.
Some educational institutes in the city have gone a step ahead and created schemes to financially help academically bright but financially strained students. For instance, Bandra’s Thadomal Shahani Centre for Management (TSCFM) recently kicked off its ‘Right to MBA’ programme, which aims to aid such students in acquiring a business degree.
“In our country, pursing MBA is very expensive and loans can be overburdening. Our aim is to help such deserving students,” said Joyanto Mukherjee, dean of the institute.
TSCFM, along with the London School of Marketing, will sponsor a free degree course awarded by a UK-based university. “We didn’t just want to pick one or two students, but an entire batch, for this purpose. Hopefully, other institutes will pick up this trend,” said Mukherjee.
Many city colleges, even though bound by the rules and regulations of the University of Mumbai, have gone out of their way to encourage talented students to study further by making arrangements for poorer students to get their fees reimbursed.
At Mulund College of Commerce (MCC), a ‘philanthropic kit fund’ put together by professors, helps students with grants, which they pay back once they start earning. “This kit has never been empty not only because of regular contributions from teachers but also because every student eligible for that fund has paid the amount back without being reminded. Students don’t like donations, they just want enough time to return the money that was used to help them complete their education,” said Parvathi Venkatesh, the college’s principal.
Many institutes also receive support from their alumni, which has helped fund the education of a few students every academic year.
“Some alumni have been really helpful, year after year, by not only supporting students’ education, but also by funding research work of some post graduates. Our work doesn’t end with graduation, and we are really lucky to have very supportive alumni,” said Shobhana Vasudevan, principal of RA Podar College, Matunga.
Knowing well that many students in genuine need of money might not approach the management for financial help, many colleges have also sought help from their professors and senior students to identity deserving candidates. “This makes it easy for us to approach the right candidate and help him or her with the financial assistance they need,” said Vasudevan.
For colleges affiliated to the university, especially aided ones, waiving off the fees is not an option. Hence, they waive off a part of the fees or rope in a donor to fund the student’s education. “There has never been a year that a student hasn’t managed to complete his or her education due to financial constraints. We have had instances of students secretly pooling in money for their batch mates,” said Naresh Chandra, principal, Birla College, Kalyan.
While students from the reserved categories are covered by the social welfare department, it’s those from the economically backward classes that face more trouble, said Chandra, adding,“We, as an education institute, do our best to bridge this gap.”