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Pursuing higher studies now easier in Bengal

Pursuing higher studies now easier in Bengal
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Kolkata: Now it is just three steps away for any resident of Bengal, class X and above up to 40 years, to get their dream of pursuing higher studies come true with the Mamata Banerjee government launching Student Credit Card scheme. It has come up as the Bengal model across India to scale up the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education.

The unique scheme – for the first time in the country – facilitates a collateral security free soft loan up to Rs 10 lakhs with the Mamata Banerjee government as guarantor enabling students pursue higher education without having any financial constraints.

Students from Bengal are going to reap the benefit of the benevolent scheme under supervision of the government's Higher Education Department when the recently released All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20 report revealed that the GER in higher education in India is only 27.1 per cent for 2019-20, which has witnessed a little increase from the previous fiscal by only 0.8 percent. It stood at 26.3 per cent in 2018-19.

Followed by a detailed study and necessary research work, the scheme has been launched making the scope wider for students to undertake secondary, higher secondary, undergraduate and postgraduate level studies including professional degree, diploma courses and research at doctoral or postdoctoral level or other similar courses in any school, madrasah, college, university, IITs, IIMs, IIESTs, ISIs, NLUs, AIIMSs, NITs, XLRI, BITS, SPA, NID, IISc, IIFTs and ICFAI Business School and other affiliated institutes within and outside the country.

With Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee always encouraging more IAS and IPS from the state, students studying in various coaching institutions for appearing in different competitive examinations like engineering, medical, law, IAS, IPS, WBCS, UPSC, PSC, SSC etc can also avail the facility to opt for the soft loan at only 4 percent per annum simple interest from the state cooperative bank and its affiliated central cooperative banks and district central cooperative banks and public or private sector banks. Even one percent interest concession will be provided if the interest is fully serviced during the study period.

As the Chief Minister had stated that course fee would not be sufficient enough to help a student pursue higher studies as they need to bear a heavy expense for lodging if they move out to any other part of the country or abroad, the credit card would also facilitate them to meet the expenditure for accommodation (either in the institute's hostel or as a paying guest living outside the hostel). It can also be used to purchase books, computer, laptop, tablet and to meet any other expenses required to complete the course such as study tours, project works, thesis, etc. The student can incur expenditure up to 30 percent of the total loan sanctioned for non-institutional expenses and up to 20 percent for living expenses for the duration of the course. The student just has to be a resident of Bengal for a minimum of 10 years.

Fulfilling her promise given before the elections to roll out the same, the Chief Minister launched the scheme on June 30 and said: "It is not just mere fulfilling of our promise. But it is a major step forward to secure the future of our students' community. The Student Credit Card scheme is launched to make the dream of students come true and no longer any parent in Bengal have to repent failing to arrange money to help their wards higher studies. I feel proud saying that no longer any people in the state have to sell out their land, houses or any other property for their children's higher studies. Financial constraints will no longer come up as a barrier between the dream and reality of our students to become doctor, engineer, professor, teacher, IAS and IPS".

A state government officer involved with the project said that the process of getting the loan has been kept very simple. A separate portal - https://wbscc.wb.gov.in/ - has been launched. One just needs to enter the portal and follow just two steps – "Register" and "Apply" – to reach the third step that is "loan sanctioned". A separate "green colour" button has been provided at the top of the portal for "student registration". One will be directed to a new page by a single click on the same where the applicant has to key in basic details including name, date of birth, gender, Aadhaar number or class X registration number along with information of present course of study and contact departments. The applicant will be provided with an "applicant ID" and a password that has to be used to apply for the loan by clicking on the "student login" button available on the same portal. The online application will get landed with the Higher Education Department that will forward the same after due examination to the bank to issue the credit card after necessary verifications. A student can avail the loan at any time during the course of study. One will get a repayment period of 15 years for the same.

Most importantly, there will be a life cover in the name of the student up to the sanctioned loan amount.

Even one may dial a dedicated toll free number 1800-102-8014 or write at support-wbscc@bangla.gov.in for any assistance in this regard.

Banks will not put any unnecessary restrictions or conditions regarding collateral security and it will also not insist on the same in tangible or intangible form other than co obligation of the parents or legal guardians as the state government to enter into an agreement with the banks separately in this regard.

Overwhelmed with the introduction of such a scheme, a class XII student Ankhi Bandyopadhyay said: "It seems that the dark cloud above my dream of becoming a doctor has been removed. I feel like becoming self dependent to pursue my higher studies. I am also confident of becoming successful in my venture and repaying the loan once I fulfil my dreams of becoming a doctor".

The scheme becomes crucial when the gross enrolment at higher education level has gone up from 13.24 lakhs to 21.61 lakhs in the past 10 years with a huge expansion carried out by the Bengal government in schools and higher education institutions. The gross enrolment in Higher Secondary level has gone up from 11.8 lakhs to 16.6 lakhs after passing Class X. Every year around 12 lakhs and 9.5 lakhs students qualify class X and class XII examinations respectively in the state to pursue higher studies.

In his message in this regard, the state Education minister Bratya Basu said that the priority of the Bengal government is providing quality education to the students of our state. The CM dreams of restoring the glory of Bengal, when we used to lead our country in the fields of arts and culture, science and technology, commerce and industries and our students need to be trained in the advanced streams of education to achieve the dream. "I believe that this historically significant step of introducing Student Credit Cards will accelerate the process of development in Bengal," he said.

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