Students in Mumbai feel the pinch as state govt stops bursaries for higher education
Students across city campuses are upset about the withdrawal of scholarships and freeshipsUpdated: Mar 05, 2018 12:18 IST
Some students at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), who were on a strike since more than a week against the withdrawal of scholarships given to socially and economically weaker students have called their protests off. But they are not the only ones. The angst is witnessed in other institutes of higher education in the city as well.
Last week, around 50-60 post graduate (PG) students from the University of Mumbai (MU) staged a hunger strike to protest the delay in releasing the non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowships, which are given to research scholars who have not cleared the NET.
Students are also upset about the hike in the registration fees for PhD and MPhil candidates. They said they haven’t received the fellowship money since October, as the University Grants Commission (UGC) is yet to release the funds.
“The UGC has not released the funds. So I am forced to borrow money from my friends in order to meet my basic needs,” said Paras Sharma, an MPhil student at the department of Eurasian studies. Sharma is from Delhi and lives in a hostel at MU’s Kalina campus.
In 2016, the central government reinstated the fellowships after it faced a huge outcry from the student community for cancelling the non-NET fellowships. But researchers complain that the UGC is reluctant to release the funds meant for them.
Many PG students in government-run medical colleges across the city as well as the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), a state-funded deemed university in Matunga, are also facing the pinch of financial burden, after the Maharashtra government stopped their freeships and scholarships in 2012.
“The state stopped the assistance contending that students receive fellowships from the central government. However, those who don’t get fellowships also lost on the scholarships. We made several representations to the state government to restore the aid for these students, but got no reply,” said a top official from the institute.
Students from outside Mumbai are the worst hit. Sarjerao Doltade, the general secretary of students’ council at ICT, said “Parents of students like me, who hail from rural areas, cannot afford the tuition, hostel and mess fees,” he said.
Why are TISS students on strike?
At the beginning of academic year 2016-17, the TISS administration issued a circular announcing that it would withdraw financial aid to SC and ST students who were eligible for the Government of India Post-Matric Scholarship (GoI-PMS) scheme. As a result, eligible students would now have to pay hostel and dining hall charges.
The SC and ST students of the 2016-18 batch have been exempted from paying the hostel fee. But they will have to pay the dining hall fee — of Rs62, 000 per annum. The management has permitted students of this batch to pay the amount after the completion of the course, but the original degree certificate will be kept at the institute until the payment is made. In case students want to apply for further studies, their certificates will be returned to them, the institute has said.
Students of the 2017-19 batch have demanded a similar exemption. But the authorities have not agreed. Instead, they have said that the management would try to raise funds for those students who cannot afford the dining hall fee.
For OBC students, the withdrawal of exemption from paying fees has been in place since 2015.
Since 2016-17, TISS has also stopped providing non-NET fellowships to researchers as the central government has stopped the funding. In the absence of UGC funds, the institute has been paying around Rs3, 000 per month to both MPhil and PhD students.