At South Asian University, though, the scene is pleasantly different. Out of 260 students who applied for the scholarship programme for this academic year, as many as 256 have been awarded scholarships and financial support of various kinds. A maximum SAU Scholarship carries a total fee waiver on the tuition fee which works out to around Rs.22000 per semester and a monthly living allowance of Rs.7000. The awardee also gets to stay in the hostel without having to worry about the hostel fee. Additionally, a start-up amount of Rs.10,000 is also given to all the fresh scholarship awardees who come from SAARC nations other than India. For Indian students, the start-up amount is just half of what their counterparts get.
The scholarship schemes at SAU broadly come under three major categories. a) SAU President’s Award - awarded to those successful candidates who top the entrance examination merit list of their respective countries and are placed within the top 10 percentile of the combined merit list of their subject; b) SAARC-India Silver Jubilee Scholarship - awarded to students belonging to the least developed SAARC countries and c) SAU Scholarship/
Being an international university with students from various countries, which mainly comprises the SAARC countries, these scholarships go a long way in making the lives of the students easier. Jalil Ahmed from Afghanistan said it wouldn’t have been possible for him to come here and continue his higher studies without the scholarship. This first year M.A. Development Economics student had to borrow money from a friend to cover his travel expenses to come to New Delhi from his home town, Herat. He could comfortably repay the money now, Jalil said with a smile. ”The living allowance grant is nothing but a boon, as it is really awkward for a married man like me to ask for money from my father, who is taking care of the educational expenses of my four brothers and sister,” he added.
For a student like Roopak V, an LLM student from Kerala, whose mother took a loan for the initial expenses including admission, hostel fee and books, the scholarship couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. He feels elated that his admission fees and hostel fees will all be reimbursed now.
Prof. GK Chadha, the university’s President while commenting on the financial support programmes, informed that the intention of the university was to make sure that ‘nothing comes between quality education and the students.’ He said the university fully understands the fact that for many of the SAU students who come from various parts of the SAARC region, it would have been very hard to afford the kind of world-class education being provided at SAU without the financial support.
Resounding the president’s view, Md. Rubaiyat Rahman, one of the ten SAU President’s Scholarship holders said, “The scholarship schemes of SAU made me convinced that this institution is careful to those who have the zeal for learning. ‘SAU would help its pupil in every possible avenue that is possible’- this is the belief that SAU Scholarship Scheme installed into my mind.”
South Asian University is a brainchild of India’s Prime Minster Dr. Manmohan Singh. Established following an inter-ministerial agreement signed by the eight member countries, the varsity was envisaged as a Center of Excellence that will enhance the sense of regional consciousness. In fact, the funding for SAARC-India Silver Jubilee Scholarship comes from the Indian government. Thanks to the government decision to increase the number of SAARC-India Silver Jubilee Scholarships from 50 last year to 100 this year, Shweta Khanal and Dibya Ghimire from Nepal got their scholarships under this category this time. They are now able to save some money for the rainy day.
For Madhu Limbu from Bhutan, a first year student of Computer Science, thankfully she didn’t have to take the loan this time, like she did for her graduate course in Bangalore. She wants to spread the word about SAU to many Bhutanese students as she knows there are many students like her who want to get quality education despite their limited means.
Over and above the scholarships, the students of SAU have the opportunity of cashing in on the Work & Earn programme where the students get to work in the study rooms, library, computer labs and the common rooms on an hourly basis, said Prof. RK Saxena, Vice President of the university. He further added that all the SAU students are also covered by a medical insurance policy that gives them a cover of up to rupees one lakh fifty thousand.
Expressing satisfaction on getting the scholarship, Chaitanya Pratap, an MCA student from Aligarh, gives a very interesting perspective, “The monthly living allowance easily covers my expenses here and I can even send home some money every month.”