Maharashtra Government recently declared tuition-free higher education for transgender individuals across public universities and affiliated colleges in the state. This move aims to foster inclusivity on campuses.
Chandrakant Patil, the State’s Higher and Technical Education Minister, unveiled this plan after a state-level meeting with university vice-chancellors to effectively integrate the new National Education Policy.
According to a department official, universities will cover the tuition fees of transgender students using their funds. This proposition was unanimously supported by the vice-chancellors present at the meeting.
The Free Press Journal spoke with transgender students at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to gather their perspectives on this development.
Kiran, a transgender student at the university, expressed enthusiasm, stating, "This will significantly assist us and likely increase the number of transgender students pursuing university education."
Aishwariya emphasized the necessity for the government to implement further changes, saying, "While this initiative is beneficial, establishing hostels and restrooms for us is crucial for genuine inclusivity. We feel uncomfortable in traditional hostels and using gender-specific facilities."
Satya remarked, "I believe this step will encourage more of my peers to pursue higher education. However, the government should continue introducing more such changes and consider hiring transgender faculty members."
Vidya highlighted the need for inclusive classrooms, stating, "After implementing this idea, transgender students should be integrated into regular classrooms as part of the inclusivity concept."
Adding to the point, Vidya stressed, "In universities, we want equal treatment, not to be treated as someone special, but to be regarded as ordinary individuals."
Sashmita Palo, a faculty official from TISS University, praised the state government's initiative, mentioning, "The decision to provide tuition-free higher education for transgender individuals is commendable."
"At TISS, we're proud to support this cause through initiatives like the Transformation Fellowship, which offers a comprehensive 1-year program for transgender students, launched by the Pernod Ricard India Foundation," she added during an interview with FPJ.