Kathmandu, September 1:

Deserving students from backward communities and women may get loans and financial aid from the government to pursue studies from grade 11 to the Masters level. With the objective of providing loans and financial aid to deserving Dalit students and women, the University Grants Commission (UGC) is preparing a draft on the issue. “The Ministry of Education and Sports has already given a verbal nod to our scheme,” said the UGC chairman, Professor Dr Bidur Prasad Upadhyaya. “The draft is awaiting a formal approval from the Education ministry.”

As per the draft, one student will receive Rs 40,000 in financial aid. Similarly, a loan of Rs 10,000 will be provided to each of the deserving students. Their certificates will be withheld if they do not pay back the money once they pass their exams. Students may also be given the loan more than once. “We will provide the students part time jobs so that they will be able to pay back the loan once they pass their exams,” Prof Upadhyaya said. He said the World Bank has assured the UGC that it will provide $8 million for the scheme. While the government has also agreed to provide funds, industrial houses have agreed to sponsor the students.

A 11-member committee will be formed with the representation of sponsors, the UGC, student bodies and teachers, the Finance Ministry, the Education ministry, among others, to select students for the scheme. Prof Upadhyaya said the committee will select the deserving candidates for the scheme.

“Though the Education Ministry has provided scholarships to the underprivileged, the Dalit, and the women up to school-level education, no such programme was introduced for students studying in higher level,” said Prof Upadhyaya. The Dalits so far have been enjoying only 0.1 per cent of the total share of investment made in higher education. Upadhyaya said the opportunity was being created in order to make sure that the underprivileged students get a fair chance to pursue higher education.