An education department order, directing colleges to refund the caution money charged from students while issuing transfer certificates and also stressing the ‘immediate’ refund of this security deposit even to alumni, has apparently gone ‘unnoticed’ by institutes.
No college has sent compliance report regarding the order dated April 29, which was supposed to reach educational institutes through the University of Pune (UoP).
While the colleges have been maintaining that they have a ‘clean record’ when it comes to refund of caution money, experts have different views with institutes accused of blocking this money, running into lakhs, and using as a source of income.
“It has been more than two months since we issued orders regarding caution money but no college has submitted compliance report so far. Several students are unaware about claiming back caution money.
Therefore, we had reminded colleges that they should return this money to students at the time of handing over transfer certificates. Colleges also have databases of alumni and they were expected to contact former students for refund of caution money,” said Sunil Shete, joint director of higher education (Pune Region).
He said stringent action would be invoked against colleges in future for failing to take steps to refund caution money to students and informing the education department.
Activist Siddhartha Sharma said lack of awareness on the part of student community about claiming their security deposits, often serves the vested interests of institutes.
“The caution money varies from course to course and could be between Rs 200 and Rs 5,000. While leaving colleges after completing their course, students often forget that they had had deposited certain amount with their college and it has to be claimed back. On the other hand, college authorities make students run from pillar to post for getting ‘no dues’ clearances from different departments, but remain tight-lipped about return of caution money. Only awareness at the level of students can resolve the issue,” he said.
Nandakumar Nikam, leader of a forum of college principals, said caution money is returned as per demand and supply equation and also after considering the status of dues pending towards students, if any. “There is no merit in charges that colleges block caution money and use it as a source of income. In many cases, students fail to clear necessary dues towards library or laboratory and do not turn up for taking transfer certificate after their graduation. Colleges periodically face audits and they have to become answerable to queries of auditors in case the money is non-refunded,” he said.
Several college heads feigned ignorance about the education department order, blaming the UoP for a ‘communication gap’. Shete’s office, however, maintained that the order was available online on its official website. UoP registrar Narendra Kadu, the recipient of the order, could not be reached for comment.