The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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JU fee freedom for far too few

Meritorious but poor' Have ranked high enough in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) to study in Jadavpur University (JU) but worried about the fees' Don’t worry, JU has scholarships that take care of the financial concerns of 25 per cent of its students.

This official promise sounds too good to be true. And it is.

Figures available from the university, of students availing of this opportunity, portray a wide gap between reality and promise. Only a little more than five per cent of the university’s students — one-fifth of the number entitled to the benefits — are being able to use them now.

Officialdom is ready with reasons for the discrepancy. Every “genuine applicant” is considered “favourably”. “The gap exists because of the gap between the facilities on offer and the number of applicants,” explained JU registrar Rajat Bandyopadhyay.

But a wide cross-section of students benefiting from the scheme, their teachers and a section of officials said the university has done little to spread the word about the scholarships or to welcome applicants.

No public announcement is made during the counselling sessions to let meritorious students from poor families know what benefits the university has on offer, allege some teachers.

Another common allegation: confronted by applicants, a section of officialdom does its best to shoo them off. “You can well understand what effect an abrasive official response can have on a teenager who comes from a village 200 km away, seeking financial help to pursue his academic dreams,” observed a senior teacher associated with the admission procedure.

JU has around 10,000 students on its rolls. The engineering, science and arts faculties have different annual tuition fee-structures, varying from the university-subsidised rates (of anything between Rs 1,150 and Rs 2,650) for most subjects to the steep Rs 35,000-plus rates for self-financed courses like IT.

The university has a facility that allows the fees of 15 per cent students to be waived. Another 10 per cent can pay half the fees. This is on paper. The fact is that 449 students are availing of the first scheme and around a hundred are availing of the second. The two numbers add up to a little more than five per cent of the promised facilities.

Registrar Bandyopadhyay, however, said the university followed “an open-door” system. “Anyone can approach me… Even last year, I helped a poor Muslim boy get a scholarship,” he said. There were occasions when he “had taken one look at a student” and promptly arranged for the waivers, he added.

What of the few students availing of the fee waivers' “It may mean that most of our students do not need these schemes,” concluded the registrar.

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