Around 50 people from several student organisations gathered in front of Arts Faculty, Delhi University, on June 21 and organised a protest demonstration against the university administration’s inability to solve the discrepancy in the registration fees for entrance-based courses for Other Backward Castes (OBC) and Economically Weaker Section (EWS) categories. They also raised the issue of fee hike in several colleges of DU and protested against it. The protesting students organised a one-day hunger strike.
Talking to NewsClick, Sumit Kataria of Students’ Federation of India (SFI), a student organisation that was also a part of the protest, said, “The registration fees for OBC category has been set at Rs 750, while the registration fees for the EWS category is Rs 300. The OBCs have been oppressed culturally, socially, and educationally for centuries, how can they equate them to the general category?”
The students’ organisations have demanded that the registration fees for OBC students be decreased to Rs 300, and the university administration apologise for the inconvenience caused to the students. Apart from that, they have demanded that the registration fees for the unreserved students be reduced to Rs 500. Amarjeet, a member of All India Students’ Association (AISA), said, “A Vice-Chancellor, who cannot differentiate between OBC and general category, does not deserve to be put in charge of a university and should apologise publicly.” The students have also demanded that the administration refund the extra fees that that has been collected from the students.
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The increase in entrance fee is not the only issue that has drawn flak from the students. The other issue raised by the students participating in the hunger hunger strike was the fee hike in several colleges of Delhi University. Many colleges, including Ramjas College, St Stephen’s College, Sri Venkateswara College and SGTB Khalsa College, are revising their fee structures from the current academic year, citing shortage of funds.
The colleges have introduced a hike ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 8,000. In Gargi College, the fee for BA (Hons) Business Economics has been increased to Rs 41,220 from the previous amount of Rs 26,875. As per the guidelines of the University Grants Commission (UGC) draft notification 2017, the central universities and colleges were asked to follow the 70:30 funding formula, where 30% was the internal revenues of universities and colleges.
The students, in a memorandum submitted on June 11 to the Dean of Students’ Welfare, Delhi University, “These attacks on social justice will have far reaching implications, as the online computerised examination, fee hike combined with the other arbitrary rules will effectively exclude a large portion of students from marginalised sections from the entrance process, effectively undermining the very purpose of public funded education. We therefore demand that you address these issues at the soonest.”
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The students’ organisations have been protesting against the discrepancies in the admission process since the beginning of June. Several protest demonstrations were organised on June 7, 11, and 14. The administration had tried to pacify the protesters by saying that meetings will be scheduled with the student bodies to address the issues, however, no meeting has taken place until now. AISA and SFI have repeatedly submitted memorandums to the DU administration listing out their demands, which have been conveniently ignored by the officials.