The National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore recently pioneered one of the most progressive scholarship policies for underprivileged students last month. You can read the news coverage of the same here, here and here. For a copy of the policy, see here.
The Preamble of the Policy acknowledges the prevalence of elitism and the lack of diversity in student populations by citing IDIA diversity survey research. This is indeed admirable, because this is probably the first time that any of the national law schools is admitting to this problem officially.
Some of the highlights of the scholarship policy are:-
- The Policy comprehensively covers all scholarships administered by NLSIU, including internal scholarships instituted by the university, along with external scholarships instituted by third party donors.
- The Policy covers all students in the B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), LL.M., and MPP courses.
- The Policy institutes a Scholarship Committee to administer all scholarships. The committee comprises of six members representing different stakeholders from both within and outside the university. The policy lays out the mandate and minimum rules governing meetings for the Committee as well.
- The scholarships are granted for a period of one year, and can be availed by both incoming as well as existing students.
- Under the policy, NLSIU pledges to encourage deserving students to apply for all available scholarships, as well as provide assistance to scholarship candidates in filling up the required forms and submitting the necessary documents.
- The scholarship selection among applicants of LLM students, 1st year MPP students and 1st and 2nd year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) students shall be done only on the consideration of financial means without taking into account academic performance. This is a wonderful departure from the merit-cum-means scholarships that some of the other NLUs have instituted that fail to take into account the academic disadvantage that students from marginalized backgrounds may face in relation to their privileged peers during the initial period of the course.
- The policy mandates that the list of students awarded financial assistance shall not be publicly notified, but only available to students who applied for financial assistance, on request.
- The policy also provides the student beneficiaries the option of paying back the scholarship amount for the benefit of future scholarship applicants if they join any organization where they earn a salary of Rs. 50,000 or more by paying a minimum of 10% of the salary every month to the NLSIU scholarship fund.
- The policy provides for emergency financial assistance to even students who may not have applied for financial assistance if they suddenly face a change in their material circumstances that threaten their ability to continue studying in the university. This assistance may be in the form of a grant equivalent to reasonable living expenses, or the waiver of Mess/GWC bills, for a specified period of time, as determined by the scholarship committee.
All in all, this is a wonderfully progressive scholarship policy that will go a long way in making access to NLSIU open to students from all financial backgrounds. We would like to commend Prof. Dr. R. Venkata Rao, Vice-Chancellor, NLSIU, as well as members of the Committee on Scholarship Policy that prepared this policy: Prof. S. Japhet (Convenor), Prof. Govindraj Hegde, Prof. A. Nagarathna and Prof. Anuja S. We are extremely grateful to the committee for allowing an IDIA team led by Prof Basheer and comprising Ashwini Vaidialingam, Shubham Jain and Spadika Jayaraj, to contribute to the shaping of the policy, and for acknowledging our role in the Preamble to the Policy.
We hope that other NLUs follow the brilliant example set by NLSIU, and institute similar scholarship policies that open their doors to all students too.