Thursday, 19 May, 2022
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Protesting students win as TISS panel tells govt to revert to old scholarship model

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The panel also wants higher government funding, increase in post-matric scholarships to match fee structure at TISS, among others.

New Delhi: A committee tasked to look into the “financial viability” of the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has recommended reverting to the older model of scholarship disbursal as demanded by students, who have been protesting against a withdrawal of fee waivers to SC/ST students.

The 15-member panel set up following the student unrest has also suggested higher government funding with a separate budgetary head for the institute, ThePrint has learnt.

The agitating students have accused the government and the institute of targeting SC/ST students. They found support from social and political organisations and drew the attention of the National Commission on Scheduled Tribes, which has issued notices and asked all government departments concerned, the UGC and the institute to ensure adequate funding for students.

The TISS committee which had Shalini Bharat, acting director of TISS as its convener, has submitted its draft report to the HRD ministry, which will take a final call on the suggestions made.

The committee also comprised representatives from the UGC, TISS, students’ union besides an alumnus.

Funds fracas

TISS is one of the eight fully government funded deemed to be universities but it has been caught in a funding row with UGC over the past few years. The Centre has so far been of the view that all fully-funded institutes must make some efforts at raising a proportion of funds on their own as well.

However, critics have accused that the move by the Centre ends up cutting down funding for premier institutes.

Committee recommendations

The committee has supported the transfer of scholarship amount directly to the institute as was being done before rather than crediting it to the students’ accounts, to avoid delays and difficulty in recovery from students.

It has recommended that the government enhance the centrally-funded “post-matric scholarship” (PMS) amount “to match the fee structure at TISS” and make it similar to the scholarship amounts reimbursed to the scholarships given at other professional institutes like IITs, IIMs and NITs.

It has also sought that the government support for the PMS be the same for SC/ST students and the non-creamy layer OBC students with income limit for the latter brought on a par with that of SC/ST students at Rs 2.5 lakh per annum.

Creation of a separate budget head for TISS to fund the fee waivers on dining hall and hostel charges has also been mooted.

Apart from this, the committee has recommended that additional resource mobilisation must be attempted to support students who may get excluded for different reasons as well as to meet the requirement of “student aid” for those from weaker economic backgrounds.

In keeping with the government’s thrust on pushing the institute to generate their own resources as well, it has been proposed that a joint scholarship committee be constituted at the earliest to work on resource mobilisation.

The panel has also supported subsidised hostel charges for SC, ST and non-creamy layer OBC students eligible for the PMS in incoming batches.

The scholarship row

The student agitation erupted after TISS issued a circular in February announcing withdrawal of financial aid to SC/ST students who were found eligible for the PMS scheme.

While earlier the scholarship amount came to the institute, now with direct-benefit transfer in place, the scholarship amount is to be credited directly to the students’ accounts. Therefore, these students, as per the new TISS circular, would have to pay hostel and dining hall charges to the institute.

The circular sparked strong protests on the campus with students saying it would adversely affect disadvantaged students who may not have the wherewithal to pay the institute upfront and wait for government reimbursements.

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  1. Only God will help to general caste poor students from low income or no income group for higher education in this country.

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