Allahabad University Students on Fast Unto Death Against ‘Unprecedented’ Fees Hike
Allahabad University students have termed the fees hike unfair and unprecedented and a violation of the right to education.
Lucknow: Allahabad University (AU) students under the banner of Chhatrasangh Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti have been protesting the proposed fees hike in the 2022-23 session for the last 11 days. They have allege that the UG course fees has been hiked by almost four times.
Students from various courses gathered on the campus, shouted slogans against the university administration and demanded rollback of the fees hike on Monday.
The students fear that the decision will rob a large number of students from the disadvantaged socio-economic background belonging to eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar of the opportunity to study at AU.
“We have been protesting for 10 days and are on a fast unto death for seven days. Five students have been hospitalised after their health deteriorated. Yet we have not got any positive response from the university administration. This shows the university’s callous attitude,” Harendra Yadav, one of the protesting students told Newsclick.
“Fees have been increased by up to four times despite the majority of students belonging to families of farm labourers and marginal farmers,” Yadav alleged.
The Executive Council, AU’s top-most decision-making body, approved the proposal of hiking the fees of different courses on August 31.
The annual fees for bachelor of arts and bachelor of commerce has been increased from Rs 975 to Rs 3,701, which adds up to Rs 11,103 for three years. Similarly, the annual fees for bachelor of science (BSc) and BSc (medical laboratory technology) has been increased from Rs 1,125 to Rs 4,151 and Rs 3,951, respectively. The annual fees for BTech has been hiked from Rs 1,941 to Rs 5,151.
“The proposed fees hike will force nearly half of the students to drop out. Nearly, 50% of students have a monthly family income lower than the fees proposed in the draft manual,” Ajay Yadav Samrat, another protesting student, told Newsclick.
According to the students, AU has produced generations of socially conscious citizens and nation builders due to its low fees structure, which attracted students from backward regions and marginalised sections. This “blossoming of talent at an affordable cost is being attacked”, they alleged adding that “it is not acceptable”.
The students also demanded refund of fees charged for hostels and mess, which were not used during the pandemic. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has directed all universities and colleges to refund the hostel and mess fees charged during the pandemic at the earliest or adjust it in other fees and has warned of action if the instructions aren’t followed.
“We paid hostel and mess charges during COVID-19. But despite the UGC order, the administration has not refunded us the money and increased fees,” Yadav added.
However, vice-chancellor Sangita Srivastava has justified the fees hike. “The monthly fees at AU for the past 110 years has been Rs 12. In order to pay electricity bills and other maintenance charges, a hike in the fees was due for the last several years,” she said in a press statement.
Pointing out how “private institutes have become major players in education and charge exorbitant fees”, Srivastava said, “If the little fees hike is causing so much problem to the stakeholders, they should realise that institutions providing education at such low fees shall perish in due course.”
The university administration claimed that AU remains committed to providing quality education and research on par with the best across the world. AU’s public relation officer Jaya Kapoor told Newsclick that the university is steadily reviving with recruitment of new faculty members, renovation of old buildings and a cleaner campus.
“But there is a clear message from the government that the university needs to generate funds and reduce its dependence on government funds. Despite facing a funding crunch like other institutions, AU has desisted from raising fees for the past many years,” Kapoor said.
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