Aspring Students struggle with cost of living, classes

Prajakta Joshi
Monday, 29 April 2019

The recently declared results of UPSC examination brought several trends into notice. In a four-part series, Sakal Times explores the changing dynamics of competitive examinations

PUNE: While lakhs of students move from villages and towns to cities every year to prepare for the civil service examination, the major factor that affects them is the cost of seeking coaching and staying in the cities.

Despite this, the aspirants are bearing the cost for years to excel at the competitive examinations. This includes expensive coaching classes, charges for study halls and cost of residential arrangements. 

“On an average, a student has to spend at least Rs 2,500 to 3,000 on their living arrangements. Eight to 10 students live in a single rented room, most of the times, so they have to go to the study halls, or libraries to study. These cost between Rs 700 and Rs 1,200 at least. Coaching classes cost up to Rs 1.5 lakh and coaching for optional subjects adds another Rs30,000 or so,” aspiring candidate of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Sanket Padhye said.

A survey of 100 candidates preparing for the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) examination in Pune stated that close to 50 per cent of the students studying in the city for civil service examinations have come from rural areas. 

The survey stated that fees for the coaching classes range from Rs 2,000 to Rs 1,20,000.

When asked about their living arrangements, the students said most of them preferred living in rented flats or rooms, and had their meals at a mess or through tiffin services.

On average, the survey said, a student spends around Rs 1,19,428 each year while preparing for the competitive examinations in Pune.

“While buying the reference and subject books is a static cost, the candidates also have to keep updating their notes every year. As the competitive examinations are focussed on current affairs, many students buy magazines, newspaper compilations, etc,” Padhye added.

Along with coaching classes, online material, websites and forums for the UPSC, MPSC and other competitive examinations are available on a large scale these days.

“Online test series is a very common thing used by all candidates, whether or not they take the regular classes. However, there are forums for guidance, which are run by the passed candidates, which are mostly preferred by those who cannot afford coaching classes,” Padhye stated.

While most of the candidates prefer studying full-time without working, after a couple of attempts, Padhye said it is possible to study while working on a job side by side.

“After the first attempt, hardly any students attend full-time coaching classes. They then depend only on test series. After two-three attempts, it is possible to understand what to focus on, and hence we can do it while working also. I myself have done that, and I have friends who had been working and yet managed to crack the examinations with good score. If more candidates start doing this, it will certainly ease their burden,” he added.

Friends and mentors too do pitch in to help their fellow candidates or students struggling with money. “I am a student of Unique Academy and a couple of my professors have helped me continue my coaching and my studies,” said UPSC candidate Prasad Jadhav.

He said, “Apart from coaching and study hall, living in a city like Pune requires an expenditure of at least Rs 8,000 per month. One of my friend’s family could not sustain his expenditure, so his friends all contribute to help him live. Similarly, many seniors as well as candidates who have cleared examinations and received postings help their juniors financially.”

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