New Delhi: Vijay Prakash came to Delhi in 2015 to explore career options after completing his graduation from Banaras Hindu University. After working as a research assistant in the Delhi School of Economics and the Centre for Studies in Developing Societies, he had joined the Ambedkar University for a Masters in Economics. However, media reports suggesting that the university may do away with fee waiver offered to students from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST)have left him and hundreds of others like him worried. Now, the fee waiver will be given to those students whose family income is less than Rs 3 lakh per annum.
Vijay’s journey from his graduation to his Masters had quite been rough. Hailing from Gorakhpur and a member of the SC community, he is the only literate member in his family. His father works as an agricultural worker and could hardly support his family. Now, Vijay is their only hope for a bright future.
In addition to reports about doing away with fee waiver, the University has also proposed that the aspirants must produce a certificate issued by Delhi Government even if they have a certificate released from their native state. The students are apprehensive that the measures will be drastic for aspirants coming from marginalised communities.
Talking to NewsClick, Vijay said, “When I was applying for M.A, I had only two universities in mind; Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Ambedkar University, Delhi. Both universities offer quality education on subsidised rates (especially for students from marginalised communities). Now, any student like me would not dare to even dream of applying as the fee can only be termed as exorbitant.”
The students feel that other proposal would also prove to be detrimental to their interests. The institutions run by Delhi Government reserve 85% seats for residents of Delhi and 15% seats for students hailing from other states. The seats for SC/ST were proportionally divided as per this formula. However, the provision was not extended to Ambedkar University. The university has decided to implement the formula from this year. The students also fear that it could wipe out students from Scheduled Tribes as Delhi has no list of its Scheduled Tribes and most of the seats were allocated to students hailing from other states.
Aditya Singh, a student activist from Students’ Federation of India, who just completed his post graduation in history from AUD, told NewsClick, “The university is now going by the old theory that economic divisions matter most but it is completely missing the social divisions part. Earlier, we could tell our parents that our studies would not cost them much. For example, my father works for BSES and is under the impression that one can easily get a job after completing graduation. But I want to study further. I could convince him that I would not take much money from him for studies as our fee was fully waived. But it will not be that easy now. The situation will be worse for girl students coming from marginalised sections because pursuing graduation after 12th standard is itself a daunting task. This one decision could undo all their dreams.”
Also read:‘Stop Sidelining Student Community’: AUDSC Writes to Ambedkar University Administration