By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, March 8:
The students of the New Delhi-based South Asian University (SAU), governed by SAARC countries are irked over the reduction in the number of beneficiaries of scholarships and a freeship restricted to a limited number of students with the prescribed condition of proving their weak financial background.
A group of students has released a statement complaining that there has been a drastic reduction in the number of scholarship beneficiaries and in the academic year 2021-2023 the number of beneficiaries is slated to come down to 88 as against 142 in 2019.
The statistics of the beneficiaries is : Batch 2019-2021-scholarships: President’s scholarship(PS), Merit scholarship (MS) Silver Jubilee scholarship (SJS) -66, freeship with stipend-59, freeship without stipend-17=total 142, (Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) renewal (SS/FS) 5.0 science, 4.5 Non-science. Batch 2020-2022: SJS- 69, freeship with stipend-62, freeship without stipend-11=total 142. Batch 2021-2023 : (PS,MS,SJS)-46, freeship with stipend-0, freeship without stipend-42=total 88, (CGPA renewal(SS/FS) 6.0.
The university has been awarding the President’s Scholarship, Merit Scholarship, and Silver jubilee scholarships for the last few years. As per SAU’s notification, No 05/2022 dated January 31, President’s scholarships were awarded to 06 students of Fresh batch 2021-2022 and to 13 students of Renewal batch 2020-2021. As per notification No.06/2022, the Merit scholarships were awarded to 10 students of Fresh batch 2021-2022 and to 26 students of Renewal batch 2020-2021. Similarly Silver jubilee scholarships were awarded to 30 students of Fresh batch 2021-2022 and to 26 students of the Renewal batch 2020-2021.
The scholarships are being awarded to the students pursuing courses in MSc applied mathematics, MSc, Biotechnology, MSc, Computer Science, M.A, international relations, Sociology, and LLM.
The scholarship offers a waiver of tuition fees (around Rs 76,000/- per annum as per prevailing exchange rate) and the hostel fees. A living allowance of Rs 7000 per month is also given. In addition, the non-Indian students and Indian students are given Rs 10,000 and Rs 5000 per month, respectively as a “start-up allowance at the beginning of their tenure to help them to meet the cost of inbound travel, book purchases, etc. A pack-up allowance is given at the end of their tenure to cover the cost of their outbound travel.
This scholarship is effective from the start date of the monsoon semester or the date of registration in the program, whichever is later. For first-semester students, the scholarship is offered for 22 months and is renewed for the subsequent year subject to satisfactory performance in the first year. The continuation of the President’s scholarship for the subsequent year is subject to the recipients obtaining the CGPA not less than 6.0 at the end of the second semester.
The merit scholarship offers a waiver of total tuition fees, hostel fees (if applicable) with a living allowance of Rs 5000 per month. It is effective from the start date of the monsoon semester or the date of registration in the program, whichever is later. This scholarship is also for the first semester for 22 months and is renewed in the second year, provided the awardees secure a minimum CGPA of 6.0 at the end of the first year. If the concerned awardee fails to secure the minimum CGPA, the scholarship can be discontinued.
Silver jubilee Scholarship
Waiver of total tuition fees and hostel fees with a living allowance of Rs 7000 per month(Master level’s program). The awardees are also entitled to Rs 10,000 per month as a “start-up allowance at the beginning of their tenure.
What students say
Most of the students of post-graduate programs, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the new scholarship policy has put them in a fix. The scholarships have been made non-transferable. If any student eligible for the scholarship leaves the university, the next high-ranking student does not become eligible for it. Besides a limited number of students are getting freeships.
The SAU students come from a humble background. They are shortlisted from eight member states- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) through competitive entrance examination. The SAU has a history of providing scholarships and financial aid to meritorious needy students. However, now the new policy has been brought into effect during the first-semester examination. According to the administration, the Standing Committee of SAARC has decided to spend only 20% of the entire SAU budget for scholarships and freeships.
Besides, the required CGPA for renewal of freeship has been increased from 4.5 to 6. The students attended the first semester online in a non-conducive atmosphere due to pandemics. As such it is unjust to expect them to secure a higher CGPA. In addition, they are required to pay additional late fees of Rs 740 till March 11, for registration.
The management version
When contacted Aheibam Prahlad, Public Relation Officer, SAU told the Imphal Times that “A new scholarship policy is being worked out and a high power committee has been set up to work out modalities. The student’s interest will be safeguarded. We have about 600 students including those pursuing Master’s courses and Ph.D. The paucity of funds is not the issue. The scholarship amount is being reimbursed to all. We are finding it difficult to reimburse scholarship amount to the students from Afghanistan, due to political disturbances there” he added.