Fee-fixation committees: College student unions miffed at being left out

The new Maharashtra Universities Act only allows representation from individual students and parents on fee-fixation committees; unions feel they are being left out to favour managements

The newly tabled Maharashtra Universities Act has run into a controversy. Student unions have objected to the way fee-fixation committees are going to be formed under this Act. Alleging that the Act would favour college managements, student unions have pointed at how they have been conveniently kept away from participating in these committees. Even as these committees will see representation from students and parents as individuals, unions feel that with their absence, there is no one to pressurise college managements. Parents and students are individually scared of talking against college managements, let alone on sensitive issues like fee-related matters.

Student unions feel that their absence is an indirect way of supporting college managements, who will not have anybody’s objection while deciding the fee structure of their choice. This will put students and parents in a difficult situation, claim student unions.

Vaibhav Narawade from the Citizen Forum, an NGO working against corrupt college managements, told mid-day, “The formation of the fee fixation committee under the newly proposed Act has representation of students and parents. But as individuals, they are not strong enough to stand against management giants. This is like giving complete liberty to managements in taking decisions over fee matters. We have seen how a single parent cannot fight against the management; here we are talking about fixing fee structures for all colleges.”

One-sided approach
Adding to this, Ajay Tapkir from the Prahar Vidyarthi Sanghatana, a student organisation, said, “Students have always been turning to us with their issues, because as an individual, they fear the conse- quences of speaking against college managements. With the involvement of student unions, there is a lot pressure on managements and that is why the government wants to keep us away. These representatives from students and parents will be selected on the basis of those favoured by managements. We will not let the government continue with such a one-sided approach to an important aspect like fee structure.”

The other side
Dr Vishwajeet Kadam, chairperson of the Bharati Vidyapeeth group of institutions, told mid-day, “In today’s world, no student should fear the management. Moreover, any college management would rather want to take their students and parents into confidence while taking decisions. Fee structure decisions are more of discussions to offer best services.”

Voices

Amol Matele, Nationalist Student Congress president
Whether the new Act is to help students or not is the question. Already we see how expensive education has become. Colleges keep hiking fees. There has to be a strong control on them. Isn’t that the basic objective of the fee-fixation committee?

Sachin Marathe, a final year engineering student
If such representatives are elected with appropriate criteria, we may have a say in decisions. But if they are chosen just as a college general secretary is selected, the representatives will be approving anything that managements say.

Vijay Shah, parent of an engineering student
Unlike school PTAs, parents of college students are not involved in college affairs. When children go to colleges, parents’ participation reduces to a great extent. In this case, only those parents who have the right vision and appropriate amount of time to spend on this committee should be participants here. Otherwise, the decisions will remain one-sided

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