In 2017, the University Grants Commission came under fire for not being able to disburse fellowships to students from various colleges in Hyderabad. The students who were covered under various fellowship schemes claimed that they had to live in a perpetual cycle of borrowing money and paying it later, whenever the dues came through.
This year saw no deviation from the trend with students at TISS protesting the administration’s decision to cut aids provided to students from the SC/ST community that were attributed to a lack of funds by the UGC. More recently, research scholars from IISc and IITs resorted to protests, requesting a hike in their stipends, stating the need for a better pay structure to progress the condition of research in the country.
On Wednesday though, the UGC announced the disbursal of all pending scholarships, owing to a grant of Rs 250 crore by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). “There were repetitive complaints that the scholarships are not being disbursed timely by the UGC and the AICTE. We issued a special grant of Rs 250 crore and now the entire backlog has been cleared and from now on, the recipients will timely get their fellowships credited,” HRD minister Prakash Javadekar informed reporters on Wednesday.
He went on to talk about the total amount of Rs 4000 crore spent by the centre in the form of scholarships every year, hence providing aid to around 2.5 lakh students. Pointing to previous cases of delays in disbursal of scholarships, he also added, “[So] we reviewed the entire system. From last month, November, we started crediting scholarship amount by 30th of each month. As of now, there’s no backlog.”
On the other hand, on being asked about the recent protests by research scholars from IISc and IITs and the government’s response to the same, the minister said, “We are positive about it.”
However, he did not respond to requests for a timeline regarding the same.