Decision leaves 25 BSc students and their parents worried

Education: The four-year BSc Nursing course, for 25 Bhutanese students studying in Indo Asian Academy Degree College in Bengaluru, India, is hanging in the air after the college, consultant and parents are caught up in disagreements over a financial aid programme.

The students were studying under a financial aid programme offered by the college through a local consultancy firm, Careerinfo Bhutan based in Thimphu, last July. But recently the college had asked them to pay Nu 100,000 in fees from the next academic year.

Each of the 25 students had paid Nu 97,000 for the degree programme with a condition that the hostel and tuition fees would be fully waived off for the Bhutanese students. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed before the students left for India.

Despite the MoU, in August this year, the college asked the students for an examination fee of Nu 8,200 and an additional fee of Nu 42,000. They were asked to pay a clinical fee of Nu 15,000, Nu 15,000 as transportation fee, Nu 4,000 as student welfare fee, and Nu 4,000 as sports fee and Nu 4,000 as cultural fee.

Not happy with the extra charges, another agreement was signed between the parents and the consultancy on August 25, witnessed by the education ministry’s Department of Adult and Higher Education. The agreement required the students to pay an annual fee of Nu 15,000 for clinical training fee and Nu 15,000 for transportation during clinical trainings, and students irrespective of pass or fail, shall not be liable to pay any fee other than the fees mentioned above. However, students are liable to pay examination fee as per the University’s requirement.

The new agreement settled everything until the college asked for Nu 100,000 – Nu 50,000 as academic fee and Nu 50,000 as hostel fee, when they came home for holidays after their examination, Bhim Pradhan, a parent said.

“Since most of the students come from low income families, we can’t manage the money,” he said. “We had sent our children to the college because of the aid programme. Had we knew they would make demands like that, we would have never sent our children.”

The students have to report with the new fees on November 23 when they will start their second year in the college.

Another parent, Jamba, said he regrets sending his daughter to the college where she wasted a year with the demands made by the college. “Our children are harassed. We don’t know what else to do. If the issue is not resolved, then we have to seek help from the court. That will be our last resort,” he said.

Meanwhile, Careerinfo Bhutan consultancy’s owner, Kungan Wangdi, said he had requested the college authorities to waive off the Nu 100,000 and consider keeping the students at the Nu 42,000 per year as fee.

“The college is under financial constraint and fighting a case against a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) who have pocketed Rs 5M from the college by falsely promising to provide learning aids at lower prices to the college,” Kungan Wangdi said. “The NRI was supposed to fund the Bhutanese students coming under the financial aid programme.”

Without funds and mounting pressure from the parents, the college decided to withdraw the financial support, Kungan Wangdi said.

Through e-mails corresponded with Kungan Wangdi, the college authorities had said that “unlike other degree students, the nursing student-parent group does not deserve any consideration at all,” and that the “decision is irreversible”.

With that, the college had given options to the students through the consultancy to arrange their own accommodation and pay Nu 30,000 in academic fees, which includes all expenses except the examination fees. They could also stay at the hostel and pay Nu 50,000 in total fees that include all expenses except the examination fees. The third option was to leave the college.

But parents say they are not happy with the options. “We want our original documents and a refund of Nu 97,000 from the college,” a representative of the parents who came to Kuensel said. “If the issue is not resolved, we will forward the case to the court.”

However, Kungan Wangdi informed the group that the college could charge them of defamation case in Bengaluru if the issue becomes too ugly.

“Before any decision is taken, I will go to the college and request the authorities,” Kungan said. “I have given options to the parents and the students, and it is up to them to decide or to withdraw from the college.”

Thinley Zangmo