The move serves to ensure that students from all communities get access to education(Pic for representation)
The state government’s efforts to offer members of the Maratha community the same fee concessions for higher education that are available to members of the other backward classes (OBCs), will cost the state Rs800 crore.
Following through on the promise it made after Mumbai’s Maratha morcha in August, the state has issued a government resolution (GR) that seeks to expand the scope of scholarships offered to students belonging to economically backward classes (EBC), by bringing them at par with OBC students. While the move is expected to benefit not only the Marathas but other economically weaker sections as well, it might be a burden on the state exchequer, which is already under a debt of Rs4.4 lakh crore.
Minister for higher and technical education, Vinod Tawde said: ”The state government has decided to extend the benefits given to OBC students to all communities so that students from all communities get access to education. We have considered the financial implications of this decision.”
Prior to the move, EBC scholarships were available across 409 courses in government-aided institutes and a few professional courses such as engineering, management, health sciences, and agriculture in private institutes. According to the GR, EBC students pursuing any of 558 courses in institutes, either aided or unaided by the government, will now be eligible to seek fee concessions. The annual income limit for eligibility has been raised from Rs2.5 lakh to Rs6 lakh.
Students whose parents’ income is below Rs6 lakh, pursing non-professional courses in any institue will receive a full reimbursement of fees. Students in the same income bracket pursuing professional courses in aided institutes will receive a 50% reimbursement, while those pursuing professional courses in unaided institutes will receive a full reimbursement if the family income is below Rs2.5 lakh, and a partial reimbursement if the family income is between Rs2.5-6 lakh.
However, a senior cabinet minister said that it won’t have much of an impact on the state budget since many students whose parents’ income exceeded the prescribed limit were availing the scholarships by presenting fake documents.
“Even the parents who earn between Rs30,000-40,000 per month are unable to afford their children’s education. Extending the scholarship benefits to all communities is a welcome move,” said Mohammed Baseer from Human Welfare Foundation (HWF), a non-governmental organisation.