J&K PMSSS Students stranded after AICTE suspends scholarship due to 'de-duplication'

J&K PMSSS Students stranded after AICTE suspends scholarship due to 'de-duplication'

Around 600 students from Jammu and Kashmir who have been admitted under the Prime Minister's Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) into undergraduate programmes in different parts of the country have appealed to the government to be allowed to continue their studies following the cancellation of their scholarship due to 'de-duplication'. Many of these students received emails from the PMSSS Cell, AICTE stating that they availed benefits of another scholarship scheme as well which is against the rules of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

In a circular dated July 21, 2022, the AICTE noted that, "The students who were found by the National Scholarship Portal (NSP) gaining scholarship from other government schemes as well as through PMSSS in previous years are likely to be rejected and the decision of the NSP maintained by MeITY, Govt of India will be final." Students however claimed that they weren't aware of these rules. "We come from poor families and hence, out of fear, we filled another scholarship form as well along with PMSSS when we were being admitted in our first year. However, the authorities did not point out the problem then. They are raising this issue now when we are in our final year and are yet to receive our degrees. They told us that our admission will be cancelled and we will not get our degree," said Suhail, a fifth-year UG student.

"As per the norms, AICTE has to release our maintenance fee on monthly basis but AICTE releases our maintenance fee very late sometimes. Then, some of us students applied for another scholarship namely NSP due to unawareness, misguidance and various financial issues here," another student said.

Details about the scheme

The scheme that was started in 2011 helps students by meeting their expenditure for academic and maintenance fees. The academic fee is paid to the institution where the student is provided admission after an online counselling process conducted by the AICTE. The academic fee covers tuition fees and other components as per the ceiling fixed for various professional, medical and other undergraduate (UG) courses. In order to meet expenditures towards hostel accommodation, mess expenses, books and stationery and so on, a fixed amount of Rs 1 lakh is provided to the beneficiary and is paid in instalments, Rs 10,000 per month, directly into students' account.

However, now that the scholarship stands suspended, students worry that they will not be able to meet their expenses. "We all belong to poor families and we have no financial assets...If they are not going to resolve our issue, we won't be able to continue our studies...Most of the students have their exams going on, yet they haven't received their roll number slips and some are not able to focus on their studies," another student, Hilal Ahmad, told EdexLive.

Students agree to refund scholarship amount

The students in a letter addressed to the President of the National Conference, Dr Farooq Abdullah this month, noted that they are willing to refund the amount they have received from NSP. "We sincerely apologise that we have mistakenly registered for NSP. Furthermore, students who have availed scholarship from both NSP and PMSSS are ready to refund the amount that they have received from NSP and students who had merely registered for NSP have already withdrawn their NSP applications," the letter said. 

The emails that the students received from the PMSSS Cell, AICTE (on November 4, and a few received it two months ago) sought an explanation from students as to why their scholarship under PMSSS should not be stopped, within seven days of receipt of the show-cause notice. However, even though they have sent their explanation in this regard, they haven't received any response, the students informed. "Our colleges have been asking us to pay the fees but we do not have money for food or hostel. Most of us are children of manual labourers," said Suhail.

Meanwhile, student activists took to Twitter to state that these students should be allowed to continue their education. "J&K student’s covered under PMSSS scheme who have received a show cause notice by AICTE for availing other scholarships should be given a chance to continue their studies under this scholarship scheme. Many of them are in their 4th or 5th semester. Cancellation of scholarship will affect their career and force them to give up as they can’t bear the expenses to continue their studies," said Gowhar Wani, a student activist in a tweet. 

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