Some senate members of the Mumbai University have threatened to protest against the decision of the university’s Institute of Distance and Open Learning (IDOL) to discontinue various freeship schemes from the current academic year. Senate members said the move would discourage many students from poor backgrounds from pursuing higher studies.
University officials have, however, maintained that they were complying with an order from the state’s social welfare department and had no say in the matter.
Yashwant More, an official from the state social welfare and justice department, said the order was issued after the state government changed the eligibility criteria. “Earlier, students belonging to families earning less than Rs 1 lakh per annum were eligible for the scheme. However, it has now been raised to Rs 2 lakh. As most of the distance education students earn, the scheme has been discontinued for them. It is still in place for engineering and medical students,” said More.
An IDOL official said not just the Mumbai University but several other institutes offering distance education had discontinued the freeship scheme after receiving an order from the social welfare department, which was responsible for remitting the amount.
“Students benefiting from the freeship scheme were in for a shock when they were informed about IDOL’s decision. Many students belong to extremely poor families, and the freeship was the only way they could pursue higher studies. Students have been left in the lurch as they are in the middle of an academic year and will not be able to pay for their courses. These students will be forced to drop out as they cannot afford the fees,” said Sanjay Vairal, a senate member of the university.
Vairal, along with a few other senate members, met officials at IDOL. The senate members, however, alleged that university officials failed to provide them with any logical reason behind the move.
IDOL director D Harichandan, while evading questions, said they were following the government’s order.