The seventh Steering Committee for the Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship met with the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Dr. Sania Nishtar in the chair to deliberate its progress and approve its budget for the academic year 2020-21.
In this regard, the committee approved a budget of Rs. 6.53 billion for 67,000 need-and-merit-based undergraduate scholarships nationwide. The members of the committee detailed that 111,685 undergraduates (comprising 42,430 females) had applied for scholarships via the online application portal which had publicly been closed for applications on 30 November 2020.
The attendees also reviewed the field execution of the program with 125 public sector universities.
Dr. Nishtar emphasized the need to expedite the process for the granting of the scholarships and the disbursements for the academic year 2020-21. The new applications are currently under scrutiny, and it is anticipated that the final selection process will be completed by April.
The SAPM also urged the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to execute a communications campaign and the disbursal of funds in a timely fashion during this phase.
The committee was informed that the HEC will reopen the portal for fifteen days in the second week of March to facilitate applicants from the medical universities in the public sector.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Nishtar remarked, “As part of the Ehsaas policy, 50 percent of scholarship awardees should be girls and 2 percent differently-abled”.
She added, “Ensuring transparency, this academic program should benefit on priority; deserving girls, differently-abled students, and those from lagging areas who applied for scholarship”.
The Rs. 24 billion Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship is a ground-breaking program of the government that grants 50,000 scholarships per year to undergraduate students (50 percent girls) from low-income families and areas across all the four provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan who are enrolled in four and five-year undergraduate degree programs. It covers tuition fees and a living stipend.
For the academic year 2019-20, scholarships worth Rs. 4.827 billion were awarded to 50,762 undergraduate students across the country.
The Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships program is being overseen by the Ehsaas Scholarships Steering Committee and is co-chaired by the SAPM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation and the Chairperson BISP, and the Chairman HEC.
The meeting concluded with the decision that the committee will formally work out the whistleblowing and grievance redressal mechanism for the program.