A new ‘report’ between college and consultancy affords students cold comfort 

Bengaluru: While the rest are expected to meet the chairman of the Indo Asian Academy in Bengaluru, India today, about eight of the 195 Bhutanese students have decided to leave the college, after they were asked to pay the fees in full starting this semester.

All 195 Bhutanese students were admitted in the college last July through the Careerinfo Bhutan consultancy under the college’s financial aid programme.  Following the fees issue, the head of the Careerinfo Bhutan, Wangdi, visited the college to sort out the “misunderstanding.”

Following four meetings with the students, Wangdi drafted a new report, like a memorandum of understanding, which, he claimed, would be presented to the chairman and resolve the fees confusion.

But, Bhutanese students are now distrustful of the new report.  The report has clarifications from the college, the consultancy’s side, and issues and concerns raised by the students, after they were asked to pay full college and tuition fees, when the college refused to accept their examination fees earlier this month.

Under the programme they had earlier signed for, the college had waived off hostel and tuition fees for Bhutanese students.  The students had to pay only Nu 47,000 for a three-year degree programme.

However, on February 20, the college issued a circular signed by the chairman asking all students admitted through the college’s financial aid programme to pay the fees in full amount.

According to the draft report, the consultancy will continue to make requests for consideration on tuition fee waiver of Rs 50,000 a year.

“Those students, who failed and want to still stay in hostel, would have to pay hostel and food charges of Rs 25,000 per semester instead of Rs 33,000 per semester,” the report states.

The report also states, the circular that was issued by the college regarding the fee payment, was for all students, and not for Bhutanese alone.  It also states that the college has stood by the conditions and commitment made earlier, even though the financial aid partner has not yet released the funds.

However, the college told students that no financial aid partner exists, even though the consultancy owner showed them a picture of a man, who he claimed to be the partner.

A 22-year old student, over the telephone, said, they were now wary and thoroughly confused by the new report drawn up by the consultancy and the college, despite repeated reassurances from the consultancy.

“It’s difficult for us to trust the concerned authorities anymore and we feel that they’re trying to emotionally manipulate us,” he said.

The students were also taken by surprise when the consultancy offered an alternative that they could leave the college and he would help avail their transfer certificates from the college.

“Before the college asked us to pay if we wanted to transfer to another college, but now they’re willing to help us in getting these documents without any payment,” he said. “If we knew that we have to face such problems under a scholarship programme, we’d have chosen a better college.”

In an earlier interview, Wangdi had said that the issue had arisen following a simple misunderstanding from the college’s side.

“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 had said.

Meanwhile, one of the parents living in Phuentsholing, Tenzin Drukda, said they were worried about their children’s safety.

“No one can say what a child will do under such stressful circumstances,” he said. “If no solution comes up, the parents will seek the education ministry’s intervention.”

He cautioned parents to be more careful while sending their children through private consultancies firms in future. “We’re a poor family and I have no idea where I’ll bring the money from if the college backs out from their agreement,” he said. “We’re worried.”

By Thinley Zangmo