They allege they were not informed about decrease of seats from 325 to 146 this year

The engineering counselling at Anna University for students who had applied under the NRI quota ran into trouble as soon as it started on Saturday morning.

Parents of nearly 220 students who had applied for the seats alleged they had not been informed about the decrease of NRI seats from 325 to 146 this year.

The NRI quota, which is 15 per cent of the sanctioned student intake in each course, was created a few years ago to enable blood relatives of NRIs to study in the four constituent colleges of the renowned Anna University. The beneficiaries under this quota are required to get a pass mark in their class XII examination for an admission into BE/B.Tech courses at College of Engineering, Guindy, Madras Institute of Technology, A C College of Technology and the School of Architecture and Planning.

Many of the students who apply under this quota reside here, while one or both of their parents, or a relative, work abroad.

Parents said the university professors who had, on many occasions, come to countries abroad to canvass for courses had failed to mention the decrease in number of seats. “We would not even have applied, wasting 200 dollars for the course, had we known the number of seats had been halved. We have all come with the required demand draft of 7,200 dollars for the course fees too,” a parent said.

Of the 146 seats, seven are allotted to Tamil-medium civil and mechanical engineering, which, parents feel, will mostly go unfilled. “Many students who apply under this quota cannot speak Tamil properly,” a parent said.

The number of seats in every engineering branch has gone down from 12 to 7. Parents said this had reduced the students’ chances of getting the desired course. “If the judgment was out in February, they should have informed us when they were marketing their courses. Because we were banking on a seat here, we didn’t apply to other colleges. And now even the best seats in private colleges are taken,” a parent said.

Most parents had come from Gulf countries, United States of America, Singapore and Malaysia, among others.

Officials also said most of the NRI applicants were keen on getting only the reputed branches of engineering, such as mechanical engineering or ECE and it was not possible to ensure a seat for all of them.

Anna University officials said, as per a court directive issued this February, they have ensured none of the quotas exceeded 25 percent of a course. “We have 4 per cent for foreign nationals, 4 per cent of NRI and 2 per cent for children of parents of Indian origin in Gulf. “The number has been halved only to follow the court order. We have never made these numbers public because they change every year, depending on directions.”

Officials added, Tamil-medium seats were also made part of the quota because the court had asked them to take 10 per cent of seats in every course offered and that they didn’t want to leave any branch out.

“There is no vested interest in reducing NRI seats because it brings in revenue for us,” an official said.

Heated discussions were held between parents and officials, after which, the parents, sources said, were asked to come for re-counselling on July 15 for vacant seats, if any, in the foreign nationals quota.