Protesting students at the institute claim that the director has gone back on the promise of releasaing white paper on the 167 – 300 per cent raise in fees
Students of IIT Bombay are on a relay hunger strike to protest against the hike imposed on non-tuition fees after negotiations with the institute’s management fell on deaf ears.
This is the second such protest since the institute announced its fee hike in May. A hike of around Rs 17,000-20,000 has been proposed depending on the course and category.
With just a week left for the last day of fee payment, students have now intensified the protest and have decided to continue the strike till the administration agrees to roll back the hike or arrive at some negotiation.
A committee called the “students against fee hike” have been formed, which took out a protest rally on June 22.
The protest is also planned as a joint agitation against the government’s recent fee hikes across all educational institutions.
The Institute's management had promised to hold an open house with the students and also provide a white paper explaining why the fee hike. The failure of this has sparked off the protest to this intensity.
“We were hoping that the administration would come forward and discuss the issues with us. However, that has not happened as yet and so we have decided to go on a hunger strike,” a student participating requesting anonymity told The New Indian Express.
Over 500 handwritten letters to the institute director have been collected and will be submitted to the management.
The reaction to the protests on the campus has been negative, with faculty members and professors warning students against participating in the protests. Some have even been threatened with dire consequences.
It also appears that the administration is considering a clampdown on the activities, and implicating the students as troublemakers on the campus.
In May, the management of IIT hiked the fee for new academic session, 300 percent hike in hostel fees, 167 percent in gymkhana fees, 100 percent in examination, registration and medical fees and around 50 percent in other charges, citing ‘inflation’ as the reason.
The administration had also, while justifying the fee hike, pointed out in an email that monthly salaries of the PhD students have increased form Rs 8,000-9,000 to Rs 25,000-29,000 in the past 12 years.
The students claim many of the hikes are “non-transparent”.
In a mail sent to the students, the administration while justifying the hike also said that the hike is in non-tuition fees and are not at all arbitrary as they are happening after a gap of at least six years and in some cases, 20 years.
IIT-B Director Devang Khakhar told the Indian Express that the institute was planning to revise its fee structure. “We are taking the students’ demands into consideration. The fee will be revised but a final decision will be taken at the next board meeting,” he said.
Soumyo Mukherji, Dean of Students’ affair has said the director of the institute will set up a committee to look into the hikes afresh.
The meeting is scheduled in the second week of August. “If the fee is slashed, it will be implemented retrospectively. The amount paid by students above the finalised fee will be refunded,” said Khakhar.
Students said that post-fees hike, students will now have to pay around Rs 8,670 and Rs 11,170 higher than usual at the end of the autumn semester.