Numerous M.Tech and PhD students at IIT Bombay continue to stage protests against a 300 per cent hike in the tuition fee affected in September. The IIT council recently brought in changes in the fee structure that included an end to the monthly stipend provided to M.Tech students. The council passed a resolution on 26 September increasing the tuition fee from Rs 30,000- Rs 50,000 to Rs 2-Rs 3 lakh. The monthly stipend of Rs 12,400 given to the M.Tech students was also rolled back. It is not Jawaharlal Nehru University students but students across India at various universities have come out in protest and taken the path of activism to put forward their demands.
When Afternoon Voice contacted editor Sumita Chakraborty on this issue she said, “It’s absolutely ridiculous that universities are hiking fees. By doing this they are giving out a wrong message that education is the domain only of the elite. In my opinion the education system even till University levels should be subsidised.”
She further continued stating, “But I think for a long time universities have got a free hand to do what they please and so they have a field of a day making their own set of rules whether it’s advantageous for the students or not.”
Among all, police action at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi where students are agitating against the Modi government’s decision to hike the hostel fees made too much noise. Hardhearted police personnel were seen beating, trashing and throwing the students. Students of JNU have been protesting against a 300 per cent fee hike that will come into effect next January. Police used force and detained over 50 students. They were later released. The university did announce a partial rollback but students are unsatisfied and insist on a complete withdrawal of the fee hike. Whereas, IIT Guwahati students are also on agitation regarding the potential termination of a faculty who questioned corruption. Around 400 participated in the protest really.
Abhishek Rai- Journalist said, “The protest which is going on in JNU has turned into something else. According to me the fee that has been increased is not much. If the JNU students can afford highly fashionable clothes, have time for multiple protests so they can also pay their fees. The fees is more because the institution is quite reputed. And due to their protests, JNU has transformed from educational center to a place where you can find some anti-establishment faces.”
IIT-BHU, as part of a nationwide call for protest at IITs against the HRD ministry’s decision to hike the fees and stop some of the stipends, the students of IIT BHU joined the agitation last week. Ayurvedic colleges in Uttarakhand have been over 50 days since thousands of students of Uttarakhand’s private Ayurvedic colleges have been protesting in Dehradun against a 170 per cent fee hike. The Uttarakhand High Court had directed a roll back of then Harish Rawat-led government’s decision to increase the fee in 2015.
Siddhant Samjiskar a private firm employee said, “A hike is understandable and can be accepted eventually. Bargaining is not an option but surveying the internal situation should be a must. A university well known for its reputation, not just because of the quality of education but also with the attractive fee rates as well which allows our most financially backward people to believe in their dreams, should take some measures where these conflicts can be resolved.”
The order, however, is yet to be implemented. This has forced students to take out rallies, hunger strikes and sit-in protests. The tuition fee has been increased from Rs 80,000 to Rs 2,15,000 per annum. At IIT-Madras, a suicide case has sparked major unrest among students at the premier engineering institute. Fathima Latheef committed suicide on November 9 in her hostel room. Her family has accused the administration of biased behaviour on religious grounds. The students of Banaras Hindu University’s Sanskrit course are protesting against the appointment of a Muslim teacher to the department.