After four days of hunger strike, the students of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) on Friday called off their agitation after the institute accepted their demands of revisiting the fee hike. The students of the institute have been protesting against the mounting fee hikes in the centrally funded institute over the last few years. In a circular, the institute said, “With reference to circular dated 12th February, all students of all PG Diploma Courses are hereby informed that the last date for remitting IInd and final instalment of tuition fee has been extended up to 31st March, 2020 or till the finalisation/notification of the new fee structure based on the recommendation of the committee constituted to go into various aspects of affordable fee structure in IIMC as per decision of Executive Council with 142nd meeting whichever is later.”
Another order of the institute read that the committee formed to review the fee structure will meet on February 25 and 27. After calling off the agitation, the students said that the administration has revoked suspension of the students as well. The institute had suspended the students for organising a public talk on affordable education. Jagriti Trisha, a student of Hindi Journalism at IIMC said, “We all are thankful to our fellow students for their constant support and encouragement. Also, we are thankful to the IIMC administration for giving their decision in favour of the students. However, we expect that the administration not repeat the past decisions that led to us going on indefinite hunger strike.”
Why Were Students Protesting?
The struggle against the fee hike in the institute started soon after the students from different universities and institutes hit the streets for affordable education last year. Universities including Jawaharlal Nehru University and Indian Institutes of Technology have increased their fees multifold. In case of IIMC, the students have been arguing that the institute breached its own rules of fee hike by 10% per annum. A look at the trajectory of the fee hike 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 subsequent hikes resulted in exclusion of students from the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities. The students allege that a total of 27 seats belonging to SC/ST communities could not be filled. For example, in English Journalism, eight seats for SC and ST each could not be filled. A similar situation is prevalent in Odia and Malayalam Journalism, where two seats from SC community and one seat from ST community remained vacant.
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