UP: No Scholarship for a Year; Dalit Students of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University Excluded From Exam
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Lucknow: Scores of students of the University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET) of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU), Lucknow have been protesting against an attempt by the university management to prevent those who have not paid their pending fees from taking the on-going semester examination. The students alleged they failed to pay lakhs of rupees after the Social Welfare Department did not disburse the scholarships for the past year.
Those students who have not paid their current and previous semester fees are required to deposit the fees for both semesters on or before December 25. "Only those who clear their all fee dues shall be allowed to fill the examination forms after 25.12.2022 and their examinations shall be conducted afterwards, i.e. in January, 2023 separately," the notice reads.
Ankit Gautam, a student in the third year of the Civil Engineering programme, told NewsClick, "Our semester examination has been going on since December 12, but those who have not cleared their fee are not allowed to sit to write the paper." Gautam, a native of Jaunpur whose father is a daily-wage worker, added, "The Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) students solely depend on scholarships from the Department of Social Welfare. Most students seeking this scholarship come from poor financial backgrounds, and they will be forced to stop their studies if the scholarship money is not given to them."
He said that due to scholarship irregularities and the lack of adequate money, many students who have come to cities like Lucknow to pursue their education are on the verge of dropping out.
Miffed about the delay in scholarship disbursal, he said, "The university administration does not want Dalit students to study; otherwise, they would have done something towards our scholarship. We have been running from pillar to post. We have held protests in the past and spoken with the authorities but to no avail. If the Registrar or any university official pays heed to our plight and addresses our issue to the Department of Social Welfare, it will be sorted out, but who cares about Dalit plight!"
The students had approached the Minister of State Social Welfare, Asim Arun, in October this year. The minister has assured the students that the scholarship amount would be credited to their bank accounts but it is yet to happen. The protesting students have demanded that the government should immediately transfer the scholarship funds to the students' accounts so that they can use it to pay their tuition fee.
Angered over the continuous demand for tuition fees by the university management, the students said they were being pressured by the management for depositing the tuition fee. The students, mostly in their final years of graduation or post-graduation, fear that if they fail to deposit the fee, the college authorities would not issue them hall tickets for examination.
Students, whose annual family income is less than Rs 2 lakh, are entitled to a scholarship of Rs 80,000. The SC and ST students of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University get Rs 1,20,000 scholarship per year from the Ministry of Social Welfare. These students enrol in the engineering college on the basis of the scholarship.
Sachin Kumar Singh, a third-year student of Computer Science could not submit his fee in the absence of the scholarship. He told NewsClick, "We get Rs 1.10 lakh to Rs 1.25 lakh per year as a scholarship. I had not received my scholarship in the first year; instead, it came to my account in the second year of my course. I had submitted the fees late by one year due to irregularity. This year as well, we were under the impression that we will be allowed to write for the semester examination, but the authority asked us to first clear the dues. From where will we bring such a huge amount when we get admission based on the scholarship?" he asked.
The protesting students alleged that if the university management had presented this condition earlier, they would have taken up a part-time job somewhere so that they could sit in the exam by depositing some fee.
"We are not allowed to appear for the exam, which started two days back. We have been told by the university administration to clear both previous and current dues. We handed over a memorandum to Asim Arun and other concerned officers but to no avail. More than 20 students have already gone back home since they were not able to submit their fee. We will wait for the scholarship till December 25; if it does not come, we will also leave the campus," Praveen, in his third year of engineering studies, told NewsClick. "The student whose family's annual income is only Rs 40,000, from where will he submit Rs 1.20 lakh?" he asked, adding that students of the Dalit community took admissions only on the condition of receiving the scholarship every year, but now the administration is "forcing" them to pay the fee from their own pocket.
Meanwhile, other faculties, including management, law and science, are facing similar issues. More than a hundred students from other departments were also asked by their faculties to clear their dues before appearing for the examination.
The Students' Federation of India (SFI), BBAU unit, has expressed their concern and distress over the government's callous attitude in delaying the scholarship of Dalit students.
"This decision in delaying the scholarship intended to promote higher education among SC and ST communities is an attack on the values of inclusivity and democracy that are integral to the higher education system needed in India," a member of the SFI told NewsClick
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