<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the University Grants Commission (UGC) assigning only Rs. 2 lakh to the Equal Opportunities Cell of central universities, under which they expect students with disability and those from marginalised sections to be catered, the institutions are forced to make most of the expenditure on their own. The EOC, was established by the government to provide equal opportunities to disadvantaged groups including SCs, STs, women, OBC (non-creamy layer), minorities and physically challenged persons. The UGC has gave a one time grant of Rs. Two lakh to all universities under the twelth plan to establish the cell and there is no clarity on funding after that. Even as the function of EOC is very different in different universities, their main aim is to work for the benefit of marginalised students. DNA reviewed three universities situated in the national capital — Delhi University, Jamia Milia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University to see how their EOC is functioning. In case of Delhi University, where a large number of students are persons with disability, the university has spent over two crore in the last five years in providing various facilities like hearing aid, wheel chair, transport facilities and other things to students with disability. The university has an average of 250 students with disability every year. “Delhi University probably has the largest number of students with disability in the country. With such a large number, it is impossible to manage their needs with the funds given by UGC. We are expected to do much more than the grant that we are given. All the work that has been done by the university in these years is from the its own funds,” said an official in the EOC, Delhi University on condition of anonymity. “When EOC was setup by UGC and they expect us to work for marginalised sections, they should also see how financially viable the schemes would be,” the official added. Professor Anil Aneja, nodal officer PwD and ODS ECO, Delhi University said, “There should be a separate earmarked grant for disability for providing various support which universities are expected to provide to fulfil their commitment towards persons with disability.” Even though UGC grants separate fund for students with disability under HEPSA scheme, the fund is not provided at the university level, where the number of students to deal with is much large. When it comes to Jamia Milia Islamia, a civil services coaching center has been running under EOC from the fund it got from UGC. “We received a one time fund from UGC under the equal opportunity cell but that was not enough for setting up anything. We got additional grant from ministry of minority affairs, which helped us set up a coaching center from SC/ST and minority students,” said an official associated with the special coaching center in Jamia. While JNU, which has a closed campus and completely barrier free access for students with disability does not face major issues in managing funds for students. The officials however do agree that the one time grant that they received from UGC did not do much for providing facilities to various sections of students, they were meant for and the fund has to be managed either on their own or through various other government schemes. National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) had also conducted a workshop on equal opportunity cell, a while back. Universities that participated in the workshop also mentioned about not getting sufficient funds for the scheme and facing difficulties in carrying out their task.

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UGC fund for equal opportunity not enough, say universities