Tuition/hostel fees that were earlier waived for Bhutanese students are now being claimed

Education: Bhutanese students, studying in the Indo Asian Academy in Bengaluru, India, are frantic after the college recently refused to accept their examination fees, and are now asking them to pay the tuition and hostel fees in full for the coming semester.

The college on February 20 had also issued a circular, asking all 195 of them admitted there through the college’s financial aid programme, to pay the fees in full.

Sent last July through a consultancy called Careerinfo Bhutan, based in Thimphu, the students had paid only Nu 47,000 for a three-year degree programme.  Under the programme, they were told that the hostel and tuition fees were waived for Bhutanese students, but that they had to pay if they failed.

One of the students, a 22-year-old, said over the telephone that she didn’t know how to react when the college gave them the notice.

The students are now asked to pay Rs 50,000 for tuition fees and Rs 33,000 for hostel and food by the end of this month. “We’re really confused right now,” she said.

Another student said that, before joining college, they were asked to sign an undertaking with the consultancy, agreeing to these conditions of paying if they failed.  None of them however received a copy of this undertaking.

“I passed and I clarified this to the college authorities, but they didn’t listen; they just ask us to pay in full,” he said. “Most of us come from poor families, and we don’t know how we’ll pay the full fees.” Other students, who have also passed their first semester, narrate the same story.

Head of Careerinfo Bhutan, Wangdi, said it was a “simple misunderstanding” from the college, and that the students are panicking for no reason.

“This is not a scam by the consultancy, and I can prove with letters from the Indo Asian Academy College, getting an approval from the education ministry to provide the financial aid programme,” Wangdi said.

Students are mandated to have an 80 percent class attendance and pass in all subjects to continue receiving the financial aid, Wangdi said.

“I’m visiting the college on March 8 to clarify all confusions among the students and the college authorities,” he said. “If a student fails, then it’s the student’s fault and not the consultancy’s.”

Of the 195 students, about 50 have failed their first semester and, according to Wangdi, they are required to pay the fees in full. “The college has to keep their commitment,” he said.

However, the chairman of the Indo Asian Academy, Professor T Ekambaram Naidu, who had signed the circular sent to the students, said over the telephone that there was no misunderstanding at all.

“All the Bhutanese parents are now calling me and I’m waiting for the head of the consultancy to come and clarify the issue,” Prof T Ekambaram Naidu said.

Meanwhile, the college website states that it offers financial support to all students for the courses existing at the Indo Asian Group, from the academic year 2014-15 through Moolex.

Indo Asian Academy munivMoney Financial Support, it states, covers tuition fee, exam fee, cost of one set of books, hostel (accommodation with food) for non-Bangaloreans, as well as to pupils from other parts of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

A guardian of one of the students said the issue merits the education ministry’s attention.

“We can’t let the future of these students be jeopardised,” he said. “The concerned authorities should solve this issue to ensure their continued education.”

Meanwhile, on February 28, the last date that was given to pay the examination fees, the college accepted the payment from Bhutanese students.

Today, there are 35 education consultancies registered with the department of adult and higher education (DAHE).

DAHE officials said that if a consultancy were found to scam students, the license of the consultancy would be withdrawn.  The officials inspect the consultancy’s offices once a year.

However, no licenses have been withdrawn from an education consultancy to date.

By Thinley Zangmo