Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Experiences with an Engineering College

Sometime back a young guy came to meet me through a colleague, Bharathi, in AID India. She had already told me that she had asked that guy to meet me and that he had some problems with an engineering college. This guy came and met me, and this was story.

This guy, whose name is Karthik, did his Diploma in Electronics and Telecommunication from a government college. After finishing this, he saw an ad in a newspaper by Arignar Anna institute of College and Technology. The ad said that poor students who are unable to afford fees for doing an Engineering course, can join their college since they themselves arrange loans for the students which they have to repay only after they finish their course and get a job. So Karthik joined the college in Aug 2005. Since he has finished his diploma, he joined as a lateral (ie, directly in the 2nd year). But soon after joining he was asked to pay Admission fee of Rs.5000, which he paid. When asked for a receipt, they refused to give it. He wrote his first semester exams too, which happened at the end of 2005. For the next semester he got a letter from the college saying that though they have tried to get loans for him, they have not been successful, and that he should try to get a loan from banks in his neighbourhood. The letter also said that he must pay 5000 before sitting for the second semester exams. So Karthik went and told their office that he cannot afford the fees, and that the college had initially promised that they will arrange for the loan. But they didnt budge. And so, with no options left, Karthik quit in Feb 2006.

After he quit, he asked the college to return his original certificates that they had collected at the time of admission. And these were important certificates. They had collected 10 documents of his, including his school marksheet, diploma marksheets and community certificate. At this point, they started their dilly dallying. He went to the college many times, but each time they say something or the other and send him back. The college is in Sriperumbudur (about 40 kms from Chennai) and they have an office near my house. Everytime he went to the college they would ask him to come back again after sometime, or asked him to pay extra fees for him to get back his certificates (which, had he afforded, he wouldnt have quit in the first place). At one point he asked his village panchayat leader to talk to the chairman of the College. The Chairman had said that he will arrange for the certificates to be given. But when Karthik went to their office to collect his certificates, they made him wait the whole day saying no such instructions were received from the Chairman. At the end of day, he returned home empty handed. Then after such attempts he gave up.

When he came to me, I decided to go to their administrative office (near my house) and talk to them. There office was just a big lengthy hall, with a chair at the centre, possibly for the chairman, and then a few other office desks, some of them with computers, and then many plastic chairs for visitors. There were just two people sitting in the whole office. I went in and told them that I had come on behalf of a friend Karthik who wanted his certificates back. They asked me details like, when did he join, when did he quit, fees he has paid so far etc. I called this guy up and gave them the details. Then they asked me who I am. I told them I was his friend. They said that the certificates can be given only to the student. I told them that I was ok with that, but if only they could confirm that they will give the certificates I can bring him. This guy tried to tell me that even to talk about such issues, it has to be either the student or his parents who had to come. I tried to reason with them that this guy stays at about 3 hours' distance from Chennai, and he cant keep coming every now and then and hence he sent me. They were not ready to listen. I was not giving up. At this point a third guy entered. He asked this person what I wanted. I tried to explain to him. But while I was talking he again asked the other person "What does this guy want?". I told him, that that was precisely what I was trying to explain. I started telling him that the college had initially advertised saying they will arrange loans, and after joining they didnt arrange for loan and all that. Before I could proceed, he said that he will not talk to me and the student had to come. I told him to listen to me first. He also told me "Crores are spent to construct this college, and who will pay for it?". I said why should that matter to me. I told him that the student had come many times before with no result and he cannot keep coming and going even to get his own certificates. Hence he has sent me this time. This guy was completely disrespectful from the beginning. He was also mumbling to others as to why they even let me sit and talk. He also started addressing me in singular to himself. I was angry. I asked him why he was disrespectful to me, when I was courteous all along. Then he called in the watchman and asked him to send me out. At this point, I was beyond myself. I told him that this was not the way he should talk to somebody who comes to this office. And that it was after all his certificates that he is asking for, and that already 2 years of his life were wasted. Then he asked me to go away and not to come back and that the college will give the certificates only if the fees for the next two years (when he did not even complete his first year) was also paid. Then he again asked the watchman to send me out. I walked out.

After this, I called Karthik and asked him to come on Friday so that we can go to the office. So when he came on friday we went to the office. But only the first guy I spoke to was there. He told me that since he was a clerk he would not have an idea about anything. So I checked with Karthik if we can go to his college. He told me that this will not work and that he had been made to run around a lot like this. I was wondering what to do next. There was a woman inspector that Prabha knew, to whom I thought I can complain. Then I realised that complaints about these colleges need to be filed with Anna university (since this college was affiliated to Anna University). When I went there they told me that such complaints need to be given to DoTE (Directorate of Technical Education). So went there. We were directed to a person Ms.Radhika who was reasonably responsive. She told us that they have received complaints against the college before too, and asked us to give a written representation. So we did that and gave it to her. She asked us to call back after a week and they will let us know the updates. And so we left.

The worst part is that such injustice is meted out to that section which is the least empowered to counter it. Even families in comparatively better financial position (though even that is not saying much), get away with paying the amount the college is asking, but this guy could not even afford that. Now he does not even have proof of his having done his diploma. And no school marksheet either. He has somehow managed to get some job in Chennai. But there just arent words to describe what the college is doing.


krish said...

police action was good..

I think a legal notice saying, talk to them saying you are his lawyer, Just get talk in a really threatening way. people are afraid of a threatening lawyer.

get the phone number of college principal, directly talk to him. panchayath pres and all does not have much!

may be if the college has student body, sfi or something like that can help, by conducting a dharna with police protection and media attention.. will really defame the college and black list it.

Subrahmanyam said...

The best way to bring facts is through website:

I advise to register in the above site for free and give name of student, colleges, authorities met, university registration number, period of study, anna university authorities met with dates.

It has become common feature for some managements to play game with students and never bother about earning credentials for institution.

Why I am selecting the above site is if this is put in private blogs, search engines like googles etc. do not show these black marks and future aspiring students are not cautioned.
Such web postings will be also helpful for anna university when they send squad for verifictation of similar events.

Final word is any miscreat will be afraid of brave.
All the best.