The education sector in Maharashtra is abuzz with fee hike protests, and the latest to join the list is one by students from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B).
They are up in arms against the hike implemented by the premier technology institute under different heads - hostel fee, gymkhana fee, mess fee, etc. - from this academic year. After a massive signature campaign, for which the students didn't get any positive response, there is going to be a protest leading to a sit-in at the IIT-B main gate until the administration gives a favourable response.
The institute had hiked the tuition fee last year. This year, it has increased charges for different facilities, excluding tuition fee. There is a 300 per cent hike in hostel charges, and 167 per cent hike in gymkhana fees among others. Labelling the hikes as exorbitant, students said the institute gave them a shock at the start of the academic year.
"It has been a month since some of us began the process of reaching out to students on the issue. We analysed the hike, drafted pamphlets, did room-to-room pamphleteering in hostels, persistently appealed to the authorities for a meeting, collected more than 700 signatures and submitted them to the director to get the hike rolled back. We also analysed and wrote a response to the explanations the dean gave for the hike. Till date, we have not received any response from the administration to enter into a dialogue with us… we need to protest and intensify our struggle," read the message sent out to students by the group Students Against Fee Hike at IITB.
A student said, "This sudden increase in cost is huge. They should have taken students' opinion before arriving at this decision. What is the point of having an active students' body on campus if it is not given any importance in issues that matter to us, like the fee structure?"
The administration, however, is firm on its stand. "It was not a decision taken by one person, but by a committee, which evaluated all expenses and thoroughly studied the issue before arriving at a decision. Not only has inflation raised costs, but we have also worked on improving many of the facilities. Moreover, this review of the fee structure was due for the last eight years. The committee is of the opinion that it is a rational hike. However, if students submit a reasonable request, the administration will see what from it can be accommodated," said a spokesperson for the IIT-B.
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