Concerns were raised over the conversion of vacant seats meant for SC/ST students into the General category.
Students belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities continue to face hurdles amidst the pandemic in getting admission through the centralised allotment procedure in undergraduate programmes offered by the State universities and autonomous colleges.
The aspirants have urged the government to publish information on the reserved seats with more clarity. They have also voiced their concerns over the conversion of vacant seats meant for SC/ST students into the General category.
“Conversion of SC/ST seats to General category is done in universities and autonomous colleges. This practice is unconstitutional and takes the opportunity away from already vulnerable students from pursuing higher education. We have requested the government to issue directives to all universities and autonomous colleges against converting SC/ST seats to other categories, till the last stage of the admissions process,” said Mary Lydia, a volunteer of Adishakthi, a collective set up under the aegis of Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha to facilitate educational empowerment and skill development of tribal students.
The students had faced a similar situation last year as the pandemic had forced them to remain in their hamlets. Most of them had little access to newspapers and had missed the information on the availability of seats reserved for SC/ST students. “It has been our experience in the previous years that autonomous colleges failed to publish details pertaining to course-wise vacancy of SC/ST seats. This lack of transparency prevents students from accessing the relevant information and applying for courses of their choice,” said Ms. Mary Lydia.
The collective has called for a directive by the authorities asking the managements of autonomous colleges to publish a detailed list of SC/ST seat vacancy (course-wise) both in newspapers and in the websites of the colleges. The special allotment for SC/ST students has to be ensured in all the State universities. They should also be given adequate time to register and complete their applications while holding the special allotment as the short time window had resulted in students living in remote areas finding it difficult to participate in the process, it said.