Dalit and tribal students, who are seeking admission to professional courses and who fulfil conditions of the post-matric scholarship scheme, will be identified at the stage of counselling.

This will be an improvement over the existing system, under which the students can apply for the scholarship only after admission. As the fees for the courses such as engineering and medical are on the high side, many students of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, despite securing admission, are not able to pursue higher education. This factor has been cited as one of the reasons for high vacancy rate in engineering courses. For example, this year, 48 per cent of seats in engineering went unfilled.

For a student to be considered under the scholarship scheme, the annual income of parents should not exceed Rs. 2 lakh. Students admitted under the management quota would also be entitled to receive the scholarship provided they fulfilled the condition.

Unveiling a new set of norms through its 10-page order of September 11, the State Adi-Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department stated that its officials would assist those conducting single-window counselling in identifying eligible candidates by scrutinising community and income certificates.

In the case of government-approved professional courses in self-financing colleges, the fees determined by the government-constituted committee would be covered under the scholarship scheme. In respect of arts and science courses, what had been fixed by the government would be provided.

The offices of Directors of Technical Education, Medical Education and Collegiate Education had been directed to get data regarding the strength of eligible students along with the relevant fees from their respective self-financing colleges and obtain the amount required directly from the office of Commissioner of Adi-Dravidar Welfare.

In the case of students joining Annamalai University and self-supporting courses offered by Anna University, the fee structure prescribed by the official committee would be applicable.

The Commissioner of Adi-Dravidar Welfare had been advised to ensure that the allocations for the offices of Directors concerned were made at the beginning of the academic year.

The government order called upon the self-financing colleges not to collect fees from the eligible candidates and this should be ensured by the respective offices of the Directors.

It clarified that the students would be eligible either for the tuition fee waiver scheme for first-generation learners or the post-matric scholarship scheme of the Adi-Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department. For this year alone, if some students, pursuing professional courses, have availed of the first scheme, they could receive the remainder in the education fees.

For example, if a student had to pay Rs. 40,000 totally and had been given the benefit of tuition fee waiver of Rs. 20,000, he or she would be provided the balance amount of Rs. 20,000.

To monitor the implementation of the scheme, a committee of officials would have to be constituted by the Commissioner of Adi Dravidar Welfare, the order added.

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