Maharashtra: Warning bells as 45 crore go unchecked in state's private colleges

Students usually pay the caution amount while enrolling into a college and are entitled to its return once they pass out. These fees are taken as a wager for utilising the institute’s facilities like the laboratory and library.

Aditi AlurkarUpdated: Friday, January 20, 2023, 11:18 AM IST
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The rules regarding caution money get murky when it comes to private unaided colleges that run free from rules imposed in the state of Maharashtra. | Representative Pic/ File Image

Mumbai: A question posed in Legislative Assembly’s 2022 winter session revealed that 1,936 private unaided colleges across Maharashtra are sitting over a whopping sum of over ₹ 45 crore, which has been accumulated from all the unclaimed ‘caution money’ paid by students at the time of admission. In awe of the amount, students are asking for clarity on where the money is being spent by these institutes.

Students usually pay the caution amount while enrolling into a college and are entitled to its return once they pass out. These fees are taken as a wager for utilising the institute’s facilities like the laboratory and library.

The money lapses if the student fails to collect it after three years of graduating from the institute. Unclaimed money that remains with government colleges flows directly into the state treasury. Aided colleges, on the other hand, are allowed to utilise this money for the betterment of their facilities after getting the green light from the Department of Higher Education.

The rules regarding caution money get murky when it comes to private unaided colleges that run free from rules imposed in the state of Maharashtra. At present, the state has no government resolution that dictates the expenditure of this unclaimed sum.

“Since Maharashtra does not interfere with any monetary operations of private colleges, we do not have any GR in place for this issue. One cannot get to the bottom of this even with the use of RTIs and unaided colleges are private institutions. The caution amount is student money after all and it is the student’s right to know what happens with it if they don’t get it back,” said Amar Ekad, President of the Cops student organisation.

The onus of retrieving this amount from the college falls onto the students. Several students are not well informed of their right to collect the money back and colleges are not taking any steps to ensure the same.

At present, the state has no government resolution that dictates the expenditure of this unclaimed sum.

At present, the state has no government resolution that dictates the expenditure of this unclaimed sum. | PM

“From what I know, our batch was supposed to collect the deposit money by October. I kept forgetting and never went back for it and the deadline went past me. I took the process lightly because the amount was minimal, but at the same time, the college was very covert about the reimbursement as well,” said a student from a self-financed course at St Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

'Policy still under work'

The government is to take cognizance of the matter as and when the National Education Policy 20202 sets in. “Policy for unclaimed caution money in private unaided colleges is yet to be decided, once the NEP sets in we will have a holistic decision made altogether,” Dr. Prakash Bachhav, Joint Director of Higher Education while talking to The FPJ.

Meanwhile, in the absence of rules, certain unaided colleges continue to follow norms that are applied to government-funded colleges, “So what is there is no written rule to obligate us, we think its right to abide by all processes that are followed by aided colleges. Our college returns the caution money as soon as the convocation is done, if students don’t show up we call them to remind them about it. It’s student money after all,” said Dr. Smita S. Karve, Principal of Lala Lajpat Rai College of Law, an unaided institute in Worli.

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