Srinagar: The mushrooming of consultancies and groups in J&K offering educational opportunities is leading to many cases of fraudulent claims and downright cheating. While educational consultancies and fairs are attracting an army of students by offering opportunities and admissions outside the state, a random survey conducted by Kashmir Reader in Srinagar revealed that every other consultancy claimed to have edge over its counterparts.
While a consultancy in Karan Nagar claimed to be the sole representative of many colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh, and is apparently offering discounts for Kashmiri students, many other consultancies also claimed to have the privilege of being authorised by such colleges. That apart, there is also a disparity in admission charges.
A consultancy owner in Lal Chowk claimed facilitating admission in a Bangalore-based college by offering a “donation” of Rs 1.5 lakh, but another consultancy sought half the amount for the same college.
This often leads to unsuspecting students falling prey to such tactics. A group of three engineering students who were cheated by consultancies for facilitating post-graduate degree admission said they were asked to write an entrance examination in a particular college in north India. “We were shocked to find our names didn’t exist there. The exam, according to the consultancy owner, was a formality and our admission was a certainty,” they said. The consultancy had induced each student to pay Rs 25,000, but the students forced the owner to refund the money on threat of registering a complaint with the police.
In many other cases students were promised admission in a reputed college but were later forced to enrol in lesser known colleges. “At first, some consultancies offer you the sky but later it turns out to be a lie,” said a father whose daughter had to withdraw from one such Ghaziabad-based college.
According to educationist Prof AG Madhosh, these consultancies function like any other commercial entity. He thinks that unless the education sector is not completely overhauled, such things would persist. “Those centres should have been information centres and help students in career guidance, but as of now it is like buying and selling thing,” he said.
Chairman Coaching Centres GN Var agreed that consultancies have a role but insisted they are misinforming the student community. He cited the example of a consultancy which duped students by taking Rs 1.5 crore from them for providing admission in various colleges in India. “Except for a police officer, the consultancy owner didn’t return back the money to anyone else. The FIR registered in the case in Budgam district is gathering dust,” Var said, while stressing the regulation of these consultancies on the pattern of coaching institutes. Commissioner Secretary Higher Education Sarita Chauhan was not available for comment.
In fact, the police’s crime branch is already investigating the involvement of consultancies and NGOs in extorting money from students in the garb of sponsoring admissions under the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Schemes (PMSSS). The scheme was meant to grant scholarships to students from the region who had passed 10+2 from the J&K Board of School Education and CBSE and whose parents’ annual income did not exceed Rs 4.5 lakh.
Scores of students, however, were expelled from their respective colleges as the NGOs or consultancies supposed to sponsor their education under PMSSS failed to pay the colleges.