TISS students’ initiative to tap into alumni network for aid

60% of collections to be disbursed, rest to go into corpus

Published - February 04, 2020 01:13 am IST - Mumbai

Helping hand:  The proceeds will be collected and added to the student aid scheme of TISS.

Helping hand: The proceeds will be collected and added to the student aid scheme of TISS.

A new initiative aims to provide an alternative stream of funding for students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) by tapping into its alumni network. The initiative, called ‘Bridge’, has started on a pilot basis and seeks to reduce the increasing student aid deficits of the institute through an established network with its alumni, and by bringing in more alumni not yet part of the network.

The institute has a student aid scheme, which provides financial assistance to ensure that lack of funds does not hamper the academic future of students. Professor Asha Banu, dean of student affairs at TISS, said Bridge was a students’ initiative under the office of student affairs. Prof. Banu and four TISS faculty members are part of the administrative team for Bridge, along with a group of students who will be appointed every year.

The initiative was first thought of in October 2017, when the issue surrounding the Central government post-matriculate scholarship (GoI-PMS) began hitting the students hard, triggering protests on campus.

Sayyed Manzar, one of the founding members of the project, said the delay in disbursal of scholarship led to a few of his friends skipping meals. “When we first thought about the idea, we initially spoke to a few alumni, who cited transparency as a major issue. So our main focus was that the process needs to be transparent and accountable,” Mr. Manzar said.

Alumni can contribute to the fund through an online gateway, which went live a few days ago. The proceeds will be collected and added to the student aid scheme of the institute. “We will be allotting 60% of the amount collected for immediate disbursal and 40% for a corpus, which will be disbursed in future. Everyone would be given a receipt for their contribution,” Mr. Manzar said.

He said they planned to provide quarterly reports to all alumni who have contributed to the initiative, with details of the amount collected, the percentage it formed of that year’s student aid, and the number of students who benefited from it.

Prof. P.K. Shajahan, who is a part of the faculty team and was the dean of student affairs at the time the protests broke out, said that during the discussions at the time, it was felt that students and the institute need to work together to bring the alumni into the picture.

Mr. Manzar said the team fully supported the protests and that Bridge could not be a replacement for GoI-PMS. “We are trying to ensure that current and future students who come from economically weaker sections can continue to study at TISS and the institute doesn’t turn into a space only for students from privileged backgrounds,” he said.

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