Muscat: Indian parents in Oman who hoped to send their children back home to college now face paying almost 500 per cent more in fees, under new Indian government rules.
Indian parents who previously paid $4,200 (OMR1,600) for a three-year-long undergraduate course for their children now face paying $24,000 (OMR9,300) for the same course from this year onwards. The fees relate to top tier college courses in India for engineering, science and technical studies.
Thousands of young Indians in Oman are affected by the Indian government’s decision to raise fees, and parents say they can no longer afford to send their children to college. Under the scheme, students can apply to undergraduate programmes in engineering, architecture and planning streams in 29 National Institutes of Technology (NITs), three Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), three Schools of Planning and Architecture (SPAs), and 10 premier technical institutions in India.
But now some parents say they will be forced to opt for cheaper courses.
From 2004, students falling under the Children of Indians Working in Gulf (CIWG) enjoyed an affordable fee structure.
Now worried parents are looking at stumping up six times as much – when the average monthly income of most Indian expats here can be as low as OMR350 a month.
In 2016, a student seeking admission under CIWG category had to pay only $300 as registration fee (non-refundable) and $700 towards tuition fee for one semester. Now, a fresh circular uploaded by the Indian government on March 10 states that those who are seeking admission under the CIWG category should pay $4,000 towards tuition fee for each semester.
“It’s a surprise move on the part of the Indian government. It’s quite unbelievable. The majority of Indians in Gulf countries are low or middle income earners. How can they afford such a kind of fee?” said Suresh Kumar, a parent in Muscat, who was planning to apply through the scheme for his son.
“Higher education is becoming pricey. We won’t be able to afford this. Government should relook into this issue,” he added.
Around 1,500 students appear for Class XII examinations from 11 Indian schools in Oman while 2,300 students appear for the Class X examinations from 14 Indian schools in Oman every year, according to statistics issued by Indian School Board.
“I am not aware of such decisions by Indian government, but if that happens, it will be very sad as most parents will find it difficult to afford education for their children,” said M Roy, an Indian expat whose son studies in Class XI.
Meanwhile, there are also parents who are thinking of sending their children for Arts and Commerce streams. “We will have to think of other streams as this money is too much,” S Basu, a mother of a Class XII student, said.
Parents of students who study Class X are also worried.
“We have to shell out a huge amount for higher education - it’s worrisome. We earn only a small amount here,” B Seal, whose son studies in Class X, said.
Jose Chacko, an Indian financial expert in Oman, said that the fee increase is a surprise and will be unaffordable for Indian parents.
“The majority of the Indians fall under the category of drawing salary between OMR350 and OMR600 per month. How can somebody earning this small amount pay this kind of fee?
“This reveals the fact that higher education for children coming from a middle income earning family will remain a dream,” Jose said, adding that all over the Gulf countries, there will be more than 15,000 Indian students sitting for Class XII exams who will be planning to pursue undergraduate courses under the CIWG category.
An Indian parent from Kuwait said that the new fee structure is beyond his understanding.
“Either it can be an error or we the parents are denied the existing facility of last year CIWG fees. We are totally stuck. Many parents like me are now clueless on what to do,” Anil Pillai, the parent said.
The admissions are processed through Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA) scheme monitored by the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Under the scheme, students seeking admissions through CIWG category will have 1/3rd reserved seats.
Additionally, the new brochure reveals that Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores for 2017-2018 admissions will be 1,800.
In 2016, the SAT scores required for applying was only 1,440.
Those seeking admission under the DASA scheme have to apply online, fill an online application form and make fee payment through E-payment/SWIFT transfer on or before 23:59 (IST), 12th June, 2017.
Further, online applications and documents should be uploaded to the DASA website through the portal.