On October 29, the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) carried out a protest against the introduction of new hostel policies, which included curfew restrictions and fee hike among other things, by the administration. Since then, JNU students have been protesting against the hike saying that it will cause the students from financially challenged backgrounds to drop out, as 40% of the students in JNU belong to the below poverty line (BPL) category.
The fee hike will increase the annual fee for JNU students living in hostels from the current Rs 27,600-32,000 to Rs 55,000-61,000, reported The Print. With the revised fee structure that will come into effect next year, JNU is set to become the most expensive central university.
The administration introduced a partial roll-back for BPL students on November 13 and have told the committee formed by the government that the university is running a financial deficit of over Rs 12 crore, which is the reason behind the hike.
Why can't students from above poverty line pay more?
Shiv Jha, an engineering graduate from Kolkata
The fee hike in JNU is justified because it’s the first time in 19 years that it's hiked while keeping in mind the current inflation and market. The students are from varied backgrounds, and while the 40% of the students belong to the underprivileged category, the rest 60% is also enjoying the same kind of benefits and those students should be charged and only students who need economic assistance should get the benefits of the subsidised rates. The fee charged from the rich should be used to help the poor.
The university will also levy a service charge of Rs 1,700 per month, which is a great move since that money will be used to improve the infrastructure. While the other institutes face constant fee hikes, JNU shouldn’t be an exception. It is unfair to the students of other government-funded institutions such as IITs and NITs who pay much higher fees than students of JNU even after the fee hike. The return on investment on people from these institutes is also high since they help improve the economy of the country. However, the return on investment of these JNU students is not much, and they hardly contribute to the country’s growth. Even after getting so many subsidies from the government, they are not doing good for the country. We, the taxpayers, pay their fees and they are hardly contributing anything to society.
Apart from that, they are protesting against the curfew of 11 pm. Every university in the country has a curfew so it is irrelevant to argue for timings. The enforcement of curfew will only increase the security inside the campus. The students can sleep, study in the hostel and a proper discipline will be maintained. Students will stick to their aim rather than roaming around in the night. We have seen the best institutes are those, where there is rule enforcement like the armed forces. So whatever the JNU students are doing is just a publicity stunt.
I have an education loan But I was not given any kind of subsidy and I do feel the burden. But many amongst my peers who were having good financial status were enjoying the benefit. In my opinion the government funds should be given to those who need it. It should not be wasted on the people who don’t need it. Equal opportunity should be given to all and not just blindly given to a few. When I visited JNU, I saw most of the students are dressed fancily, they have iPads and iPhones. They are not the ones who need subsidised education.
Regarding JNU fees hike, adjusting for inflation and keeping in mind there have been no fee hike from about last few decades, I feel it is justified, as the fees from the financially strong will again be invested in the welfare of poor students. Fees hike is not for stealing the poor’s right to educations, but to reinvest the funds collected from there financial stronger peers for their welfare.
And the biggest irony of all, as I’m currently working, I will be paying the Income tax along with my monthly education loan EMI . And this tax money will again end up funding the education of someone who probably won’t be needing it.
It's a fight for the rights of all the students
Kapil Kajal, an engineering graduate from Lingaya's University, Faridabad
The students of JNU are not only fighting for their rights but also fighting to improve the Indian education system. What they are doing is totally justified because increasing fees from the institutions are taking away India’s dream of educated youth and is oppressing the already marginalised groups. The students of JNU are not the only ones protesting, students from IIT Bombay, IIT BHU and Ayurveda colleges in Uttarakhand are also protesting fee hikes in their respective institutes.
The best universities in the world are totally free or subsidised and the government in the developed countries hope to provide subsidised education. India spends only 3.8% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education, which is less than what Bhutan, Zimbabwe or Kenya allocate to education.
The government underspends the budget allocated for education in four out of the last five years, which amounted to Rs 4 lakh crore. JNU is one of India’s best universities, and it is the only Indian university apart from Delhi University which appeared in the Times Survey of the top 500 humanities universities in the world. The National Assessment and Accreditation Council gave JNU the maximum Grade A++ ranking, which shows that it’s a model institution for others to follow.
A sudden increase in fees will affect the education of students who belong to the BPL category. Not only in JNU, but the fees should also be reduced everywhere with time, not increased. Increasing the fee will increase the load on parents, and parents who are still facing the problems to give the fees of their children, they won’t be able to manage due to rising inflation. And if we can give subsidies to our politicians and construct the world’s tallest statue, our students shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of the government’s misplaced priorities.
I think education is important for the development of the country. We need to make India a developed country. The education will only take us to that level. Already at this point, there are very few people in the country who are getting a good quality education. If we increase the price of education, what will be its impact? The number of a few who are getting good quality education will become less. I personally need a country, where I will deal with educated people. I want an educated Prime Minister, educated leaders. I need a society that can act logically. I saw my family taking loans for my education, in debt for my education and for next-generation it will increase more. How will I pay for the studies of my kids? I don’t want that fear in my mind to produce a child. I used to pay 300 per month for my school fee and the school fee for the same school now is Rs 2000 per month just in a span of 7 years and it is increasing every year. How can a rikshaw puller will give his child a good quality education? If the government would have given me a subsidized education, my parents wouldn’t have suffered so much, that is when I come from a well to do middle-class family. Somehow I got a good education and doing well in my life. But what about those people who could not afford to take a loan as well. Every parent’s dream is to give his/her child a good education but the government is taking away the right to education from many. I think it is a reductionist approach for which the government is going on right now. The education should be free for all the people of society whether upper class, middle class, and lower class and all of them should be educated together. The right to equality as per Article 14 of our constitution will be served only when all people of our society belonging to any caste, creed, religion, and family background will sit together to get education. That will also bring equality in our society which is the biggest social problem in India right now. The education is free or subsidized in most of the developed nations. I think this is the will of such uneducated leaders which made our country’s economy stand where it is right now and to fill their fiscal deficit faster, they are doing such things right now so that they need not spend the money on something else like education. If they would have properly educated, this question would not have come.