State Higher Education Department Seeks Details Of Alumni Help To Colleges

State Higher Education Department

Most of the colleges in West Bengal, including the autonomous ones, shared their bank details with the state government for a donation portal that will be set up to track “any donation to the institutions from the alumni”.

West Bengal’s higher education department had on Friday asked the colleges to share the details through a Google form by Monday afternoon on “an urgent basis”.

Several autonomous colleges, which in recent times appealed to their alumni for contribution following a decline in grants from the state government and the Centre, wondered why the government was interested in details of transactions which, they said, “should remain restricted between the college and its alumni”.

The heads of the institutions were told to “fill up the Google form and submit the same positively by 2 pm (Monday)”.

In the forms, the colleges were asked to state the name of the bank along with the branch, name of the beneficiary, account number, account type, IFSC code, and the contact number attached to the account number.

In early January, Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira, Belur, had said the college was going through a “financial crisis” because of a dip in aid from the central and state governments and appealed to its former students to step forward in this “grave hour of crisis”.

The Telegraph reported on April 17, 2022, that Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Narendrapur, had requested contributions from alumni and others to raise Rs 6 crore because portions of a hostel had to be urgently reconstructed and new equipment for some laboratories needed to be purchased.

The physics department of Scottish Church College, which is a Church-run institution, has an alumni chapter that raises funds from time to time to cover some of the expenses on infrastructure. The alumni chapter has a bank account of its own.

A former student of Scottish Church College, who was involved in the fundraising drive, said it was not clear why the education department wanted to know about any donation to the institutions from their alumni.

Why is the education department seeking details of what we contribute?” the former student said.

Asked what prompted the government to seek bank details from the colleges, an official in the education department said: “The bank details, which will be part of the donation portal that the state government is setting up, have been sought for the purpose of storing the data in our higher education portal.”

Education minister Bratya Basu told The Telegraph in a text message in Bengali: “Mostly former students of the institution will donate to the alumni fund. They will donate for the betterment of their schools and colleges, which should not be a problem. If other private institutions extend help, they will have to follow the conditions…. If you look at reputable institutions across the world, you will find that they collect donations from various organisations and alumni. This money is used to fund various research and educational work. The government has limited resources, which is not enough to unlock the enormous potential for educational and research work.”

An official of an autonomous college said they had to reach out to the alumni because the state government’s contribution under the non-salary grant was on the wane and expenses for the maintenance of the laboratories was on the rise.

“I am not comfortable with the idea of sharing the bank details for the donation portal,” he said.

Colleges generate funds mostly through tuition and other fees. While they can use half the funds, the other half goes to the state exchequer.

In March 2020, the department asked the state-aided colleges to deposit the development fees paid by students to the government with the idea that the government would supply funds to the colleges for day-to-day maintenance of the campus, small repairs, and minor expansion programmes.

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