New Delhi: The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has this year more than doubled the number of scholarships for women students attending technical institutions at the undergraduate level.
The council, which is the technical education regulator in the country, offers a scholarship — Pragati — for women students who are from the economically weaker sections of society. Those with family incomes of less than Rs 8 lakh per annum are eligible.
As part of the scholarship, a woman student gets Rs 50,000 per annum, which is to cover tuition fee and other expenses. The scholarship is applicable to students pursuing polytechnic, engineering, pharmacy and architecture courses in institutions approved by the council.
So far, the council had been offering only 4,000 scholarships to women from poor families but it has decided to increase that number to 10,000 from the 2020-21 academic session.
In addition to the 10,000 scholarships, the AICTE has also decided that any poor women students from Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast region, who apply for the monetary aid, will be granted the funds. Funds for the scholarship will be managed from AICTE’s own corpus.
Talking about the initiative, AICTE Chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe said that it was an attempt to increase the participation of women in technical education.
“In recent years, we have received good response for our Pragati scholarship scheme and hence we decided to expand the number to 10,000 this year,” he said. “We want more and more girl students to take advantage of the scholarship scheme.”
This move will also increase the participation of women in technical education, the chairman said.
Fewer female students as compared to their male counterparts opt for technical education. According to the latest All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), in 2018-19, only 28 per cent of those enrolled in the Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) course were women. It’s a similar ratio in the Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) course, which had 28.86 per cent women as against 71.14 per cent men.
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In the same year for the Masters of Business Administration (MBA), 41.67 per cent of those enrolled were women as against 58.33 per cent men.
To ensure that maximum number of girl students are able to take advantage of the scheme, the council has decided to promote the scholarship scheme actively in colleges and universities.
It has been holding webinars with institutions and students, sending emails to colleges and regularly speaking with the stakeholders. The council is also asking schools to encourage students in classes 10 and 12 to take up engineering or other technical courses in the future and let them know about the financial aid.
Apart from the monetary aid for girl students, AICTE offers a number of other scholarships as well, including for differently-abled students, masters students and researchers.
For instance, the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS), awarded to students from J&K and Ladakh, is also managed by the AICTE, even though it is for both technical and non-technical courses.
The fully-funded scholarship is only for students from J&K or Ladakh. It was launched in the 2011-12 academic session.
According to Sahasrabudhe, PMSSS has seen a big spike in the number of applications in recent years.
“We have seen a rise in the number of applications for PMSSS in the last three-four years,” he said. “This year, more than 22,000 students have registered for the scheme and more than 18,000 students have submitted applications. These applications are for 5,000 scholarships awarded to students for institutes all over India.”
According to AICTE data, 18,852 students registered for the scholarship in 2020-21, 14,417 in the year 2019-20 and 14,403 students in the year 2018-19.
Main objectives of the scholarship is national integration of the youth of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and provide them better educational opportunities, which they otherwise might not get in their home state, Sahasrabudhe said.