Governance

Maharashtra govt announces free higher education for EWS, SEBC and OBC girls

The program, which is scheduled to start in the 2024–25 academic year, is expected to cost Rs 906 crore.

On Monday, July 8th, 2024, the Maharashtra govt. issued a Government Resolution (GR) to formalize its recent announcement to extend 100 percent reimbursement of tuition and examination fees for female students from Economically Weaker Section (EWS), Socially and Economically Backward Classes (SEBC), and Other Backward Classes (OBC) with annual family incomes up to Rs. 8 lakh in professional courses, effectively promoting free higher education for these groups.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde presided over a cabinet meeting where the decision was made to implement this program, which aims to advance women’s education. In addition, a government resolution (GR) states that test and tuition expenses for orphaned students of both genders would be waived. Orphans are also eligible for the Higher and Technical Education Department’s Grants. The program seeks to increase the number of female students enrolled in professional programs in fields including agriculture, engineering, medicine, and pharmacy, among others.

Maharashtra Govt.
Image Source: ZeeVector

The program, which is scheduled to start in the 2024–25 academic year, is expected to cost Rs 906 crore. According to the GR, female students wishing to enroll in accredited vocational programs in government, assisted, polytechnics, autonomous government universities, and open universities, semi-aided, and non-aided colleges must use the Centralized Admission Process, and will benefit from this initiative.

However, the program is not available to students enrolled through management or institutional quotas, private autonomous institutions, or self-funded universities. Female students must meet the EWS, SEBC, or OBC eligibility requirements and come from households with an annual income of Rs 8 lakh or less. This program will help current students pursuing their degrees as well as new entrants.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar unveiled some other initiatives in the state budget, such as the Mukhyamantri Majhi Ladki Bahin Yojana (which gives eligible women between the ages of 21 and 60 a monthly allowance of Rs. 1,500), the Mukhyamantri Yuva Karyaprashikshan Yojana, the Mukhyamantri Annapoorna Yojana (which gives women three free gas cylinders), and an overall free education program.

Pointing out past delays in reimbursements causing uncertainty and stress among students, one beneficiary of the existing 50 percent reimbursement scheme stated, “The income condition is meant to prove our inability to bear expenses. Yet, we are expected to pay the full fee and wait for reimbursement. It would be more helpful if the government waived the fee for girls and paid it directly to the institute upon admission.”

Information from Minister of Higher and Technical Education Chandrakant Patil’s office indicates that the program will begin this academic year. It is anticipated to help about 205,499 females who apply to professional courses in the state through the Common Admission Process (CAP) rounds.

Chief Minister Shinde has emphasized that the programs are supported by financial provisions and are meant to be permanent, despite the opposition’s doubts about the financing sources and suggestions that they are aimed at winning over female votes ahead of the state assembly elections.

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