Students protest Fee Hike

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Yesterday, students of the institute organised a protest rally against the recently implemented hostel fee hike. The 10-hour long protest witnessed a strength of around 80-100 students with about 700 signatures. Scheduled to begin at 9 AM, students gathered at Hostel 12, after which posters were distributed by members of Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle and Research Scholars Forum. The march, which began at 9:30 AM, consisted of Ph.D. students, along with a few undergraduates and some Masters students.. The students marched through the institute and reached the main building, where a sit-in was organized and slogans were raised. The students demanded an immediate rollback of the recent hike and assurances of a proper informed hike the next time around. They voiced their concerns over the sudden fee hike after a major hike in tuition fees last year, especially since this hike wasn’t discussed with the student community before being enforced.

The protest rally gained momentum in the evening at around 6 PM when the protesters started raising slogans near the Main Building and called out the Director and Dean of Student Affairs to step out and address their concerns. With the security guards intermittently present, the protesters finally calmed down when the Director of IIT Bombay, Prof. Devang Khakhar arrived and addressed the gathered crowd.

“The reality is that all of us live in a very expensive campus. The education is hugely subsidized at IIT Bombay but for the living expenses, this subsidy is going to be cut as the cost of living is increasing on all the fronts. I agree that there should be absolute transparency for which we’d be soon producing a white paper explaining the costs that are being covered through the student fees and thereafter we’ll have an Open House where we can have a sensible and detailed discussion about the numbers. We certainly don’t want to unduly burden the students with financially worries because we, not just expect excellent academic work from you but also that you understand the realities. I’ll soon revert to the mail from student representatives with the dates.”

Dissatisfied with Director’s answer, the students demanded concrete dates for the Open House with some significant window before the deadline for the payment of fees. When the director asserted that this was not possible, the students demanded a suspension of the fee portal for time being or to postpone the deadline by a week or two. The Director declared that any such extension of deadline is not possible because he believes that even if the fees got reduced after the negotiation, it would be a slight change and surely won’t be back to what it was earlier. Concludingly, the Director said, “Costs are rising and naturally you should expect to pay more. We’ll surely tell what you’re paying for, so that you don’t feel that we are unnecessarily extracting money from you. I don’t want to make any false promises and I agree that you’re concerned about this issue, hence I am happy to negotiate but the deadline won’t be extended. You’re not all the students. Those who can pay, should pay; those who are facing financial difficulties we’ll make special provisions for you. The Board of Governors decides the fees and that remains fixed until the next board meet. As I said there’s not going to be a major change in the fee, but we can see to what extent it can be reduced.”

After he left, the students had a 2-hour long meet where they discussed steps to be taken regarding the issue. Post the meeting, one of the representatives concluded, “The administration has had a very long time to complete their homework. We feel that an Open House won’t amount to much. Now that the deadline is approaching, we have no other option than to intensify the protest till a meaningful discussion with students against this fee hike begins. We’re waiting for the Director’s reply till Tuesday.”

The protest has been called off until there is an official reply from the Director.

Facts of the matter:
The exact changes in each of the fee(s) across all the batches, programmes and categories are as follows:

Division of Fees2016-17

Examination Fee5001000
Registration Fee5001000
Gymkhana Fee7502000
Hostel Rent*5002000
Electricity & Water Charges*25003000
Medical Fee10002000

Student Benevolent Fund
Hostel Establishment Charges*20003000
Contribution to Hostel Subsidy*60000
Mess Establishment Charges*01500
Student Accident Insurance Fund126200
Total 14,87617,000
Effective change-+2,124
*Applicable only to people opting for hostel.

One noteworthy change is the decrement in the ‘Tuition Fees’ of Ph.D. students belonging to Group 1 of General and OBC categories from INR 5,000 to INR 2,500. Excluding this, there is no change in the ‘Tuition Fees’ of any other programme.
Another significant change is in the ‘Semester Mess Advance’ that has been increased from INR 15,000 to INR 20,000.
On the whole, there has been a hike of INR 2,124 (with hostel) and INR 3,624 (without hostel).