Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), country’s premier journalism school on Monday issued notices to the students protesting against fee hike for over two months and asked them to submit their response. The students of IIMC have alleged that over the years, the institute has not followed its own rules and has increased the fees by as much as 17% in a year. They also alleged that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were the worst-hit victims of the fee hike, as the reserved seats have not been filled.
The notice issued by the institute to the students read, “The students are directed to show cause latest by 5 PM on Thursday, 13th February, 2020 as to why further disciplinary action should not be taken against them for the acts of indiscipline on their part by violating the code of conduct for students and invoking grounds for disciplinary proceedings, in spite of repeated communication, both oral and written, to desist from certain activities. While as part of suspension, the students who have been occupying seats in hostel should have been temporarily rusticated from the hostel, the same is not being resorted for the time being on a humanitarian ground.” The letter further read, “[C]opy of this order is being endorsed to the parents of the students concerned as well.”
Students NewsClick spoke to said that the notice was issued to them after they attempted to hold a public talk on affordable education. Prabhakar, one of the suspended students said, “From the very beginning, we have spoken against the ill intentions of the IIMC administration, but from the past few days, it has been trying to shut our voices down against the unaffordable fee structure. Especially on February 9, they released a notice to threaten us and stop from using the lawn to talk about affordable fee structure and discrimination faced by the students and alumni of IIMC. And when we stood up for our rights and arranged the talk, a suspension order was issued against 11 students on February 10 in return.”
Another suspended student, Gautam Kumar from Radio and Television Department, told NewsClick that the students wanted to draw attention towards the discrimination against them. He said, “We had informed the administration about the event in advance. We wanted to tell our alumni that the administration was treating us differently. While the probationers of the Indian Information Services and the students of Development Journalism get facilities like gymnasium and table tennis court, we have been limited to our rooms only. Even the quality of the food served is worse. Why cannot we raise these issues? The institute is saying that we have breached the code of conduct. How can discussing these issues lead to violation?”
He added, “My parents call me every day to enquire about our safety. They are frightened after the masked mob attacked students in our neighbouring campus, Jawaharlal Nehru University. We have already seen the police action in Jamia. In this scenario, the administration wishes to terrorise our parents too.”
A look at the trajectory of the fee hikes in the institute clearly shows how the aspirants are finding it more and more difficult to pursue education. The institute recently increased the annual fee for English/Hindi journalism courses from Rs 79,000 to Rs 95,000; from Rs 1.45 lakh to Rs 1.68 lakh for Radio and TV, and from Rs 1.12 lakh to Rs 1.31 lakh for advertising and PR.
The students of the various institutions including Indian Institute of Technology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Jawaharlal Nehru University have been up in the arms against rising fees.
NewsClick tried reaching director general and the assistant registrar for comments, but received no response.