Students forced to wait as fee scheme hits roadblock.

Fee reimbursement scheme, on which the academic lives of lakhs of students is depended, has hit another roadblock. The verification process of the scheme has been put on hold indefinitely as the social welfare department has not employed staff to verify details of the students covered under the scheme for the year 2010-11. About three lakh students from engineering colleges in the state are awaiting clearance under the scheme even as they prepare to write their end-semester examination later this month.

While the manual verification of whereabouts of about three lakh students enrolled in third and fourth year of engineering colleges in the state is yet to be done, officials in the social welfare department predict that the process might get delayed by another month. According to officials, the verification process might not happen until January next due to staff crunch. This would mean that several students appearing for the examination can be ruled ineligible for the scheme in January.

Student organisations said that the state should have completed the verification process before the commencement of examinations. “The government has made the verification process strict this year. Many students, who were covered under the scheme last year, could be rejected this year as per the new rules. This is unfair as all of them would be appearing for their semester exam,” said G Eswaraiah, president, All India Students Federation. As part of verification process, the social welfare officials are expected to recheck whether the students still fall under the parental income of Rs 1 lakh per annum even in the current academic year. Even after the staff is deputed for the verification process, officials said that it would take about 15 to 20 days for the verification to complete in each of the 726 engineering colleges.

However, the state is not planning to initiate the verification process for students of the first and second year due to a high court order that has quashed all the existing government orders on fee structure. “The government is maintaining that since the HC has quashed all GOs on fee structure for engineering college students (I and II years), the verification for these students will be done once the fee structure is fixed,” a college representative said. Already, several student unions including SFI, ABVP and PDSU have staged protests demanding the state to initiate the verification process.

College managements said that the state government has not released funds under the scheme citing delay in verification as the reason. “The state government was supposed to release funds in four quarters but they have not done that yet stating delay in the verification process. Most of the students covered under the scheme are worried about the outcome of the verification. The process would be much simpler if the government officials take the details of students from JNTU records, which are already computerized,” said Ramesh Nimmatoori, an engineering college official.

Source : The Times of India

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