The fee reimbursement scheme has raised an outcry among political parties and student organisations.
It is a known fact that in politics, strategies help parties achieve their goals. The State government seems to have achieved the same feat when it came to the issue of the controversial fee reimbursement scheme, which has been rocking the State since the SC judgement on August 1. The apex court had set aside the request of the government to maintain status quo. The existing system following the AP High Court order which had directed the State to implement a uniform fee structure.
The verdict of the SC put an additional burden of `486 crore on the State which is already spending `3,500 crore on the scheme benefitting about 26 lakh students. Reacting to the orders of the apex court and with an aim to get rid of the fresh burden, the CM had constituted a high- level committee of experts as the fee reimbursement scheme being implemented by the State since the last few years will further drain its coffers.
Apart from the experts committee, a sub-committee of a group of ministers was also constituted by the CM.
The cabinet sub-committee headed by the social welfare minister Pitani Satyanarayana strategically leaked information of the discussions of its meeting and announced that the State would not bear the burden being thrust onto it in the wake of the SC verdict and said that the BC students should bear the increasing burden of `20,000.
This statement of the minister led to a huge outcry across the State with opposition parties and student unions taking to the roads and demanding that the State withdraws its proposed decision.
The announcement also forced TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu to stage a dharna at KBR Park on Wednesday and court arrest once again. Gauging the pulse of the students and political parties, the State immediately did a U-turn on its proposed decision and came up with another one on regulating private colleges.
The idea is to convince the colleges to accept the existing fee structure instead of fighting for a uniform fee structure. In order to convince the colleges, the State has primarily decided to amend its Andhra Pradesh Education Act-1982 to bring the private colleges under its enforcement network. This will help the State to continue the scheme.
The fee reimbursement scheme, a brain child of the late CM YS Rajasekhar Reddy, was meant for the students belong to the economically poor sections of the State. Under the scheme, the State would bear the entire fee of a student enrolled into any educational institution.
A group of nine student organisations held a protest this morning at the minister quarters. The organisations demanded that the State government should defect from its proposed scheme. Tension prevailed when the students tried to enter the complex. The attempts of the activists were thwarted by the police. The activists were later taken into custody. The students also called for a State-wide bandh for engineering colleges.