April 8, 2021 10:19:21 am
Several first-year Master’s and PhD students of South Asian University (SAU) have decided to boycott classes demanding “immediate disbursal of scholarships and freeships with arrears from October 2020” and “phased accommodation” in the university campus.
SAU is governed jointly by all SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries, and comprises students of all these countries too.
The students alleged SAU was not disbursing scholarships without physical verification and demanded that an e-verification process be adopted instead. Students, who did not wish to reveal their names, issued a statement in this regard Wednesday saying they would continue the boycott till their demands were met.
Besides the scholarship issue, they demanded “immediate steps to complete the UGC-JRF approval process and approve fellowships for those eligible students pending for the past few months”. They also asked that SAU begin phased return to hostels or “provide 8,000/- INR housing allowance per month as per SAU Rules”.
Other demands included “issuance of bonafide certificate for all non-Indian students for visa purposes” and “expediting the verification of non-Indian student’s income certificates for freeship purposes”.
“The first-year students were forced to decide on class boycott after the university’s uncaring and unresponsive attitude towards our emails demanding what we were promised in our admission offer letters,” students said.
They said they were also “shocked to know the university administration is mailing the Indian Embassies in the SAARC countries requesting them not to provide visas to the first-year students”.
University officials, however, told The Indian Express the demands of phased return or doing away with physical verification was not possible.
“It was very clearly written in the scholarship offer letter that scholarship will be disbursed only after completing all in-person registration formalities i.e., physical verification of documents and physical presence in the campus. The fact remains that the scholarships will be effective from the start of the first semester i.e, 26 October, 2020. Arrears will be paid when the university opens for physical classes and students turn up in person and carry out in-person registration process,” a university official said.
“Disbursement of scholarship to all the students in the first year is also not feasible at this point of time as all the students do not have an account in the banks that the university deals with (or for that matter any of the banks in India). There are challenges in sending money to bank accounts in many of the member states of SAARC,” he added.
However, the UGC-JRF scholarship, he said, was being disbursed regularly to all recipients except one, in whose case the matter was stuck at the level of the UGC.
The official also said that except research students who needed to use laboratories, students weren’t being allowed on campus due to the pandemic, and it could put their and others’ lives in danger. “Since the students are not physically present on campus, paying living allowance to the students who are attending classes from their homes makes little sense,” he said.
The official said the letter to embassies was sent to “save students from difficulties” as earlier two students from Afghanistan had landed up on the campus at a time when the hostel was not available, and struggled with their accommodation.
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