Published: 25th March 2019
Pondicherry University fee hike: Seven student groups form Joint Action council to stage largest strike of the year
The revised fee structure would result in the denial of opportunities to students from poor economic and social backgrounds, the agitators claim
Six student organisations including the Pondicherry University Students' Council have formed a Joint Action Council (JAC) to resist the decision of the university administration to implement a steep fee hike in various departments. Raising the slogan Affordable, Accessible, Equal Education for all, the students are launching a massive students' strike on Monday at 4.30 pm to deliberate and decide the further course of action if their demands are not met. "We are expecting at least 300 students at the strike today. We cannot say right now if it will be more or a less number of students will turn up as it is a busy time for them as some have their exams going on. Based on the responses from the gathering we will decide on further actions," says SFI-PU president C P Uvais.
In the context of the failure of the administration in giving any assurance to the student community on the matter of the MBA fee hike (that has been raised by an unprecedented 125 per cent), the JAC presented a list of demands to the varsity administration:
- Fee hike in MBA courses should be revoked
- No fee hike should be carried out in any other department
- Ensure 25 per cent reservation for students from Pondicherry University
- Re-implementation of the semester exam system and simplification the process of internal revaluation
Fee hikes in various courses as put out by the administration (Pic: Uvais)
In a letter to the Registrar on March 8, 2019, the Students' Council President had pointed out that the fee for all the MBA courses was hiked by 125 per cent for the 2019-20 academic year without any contemplation. The revised fee structure would result in the denial of higher educational opportunities to many students from poorer economic and social backgrounds. The fee hike had triggered widespread protests. The Students' Council and the SFI unit had released circulars demanding a withdrawal of the decision. However, the JAC claims that the varsity has now gone to the extent of increasing the fee for MCA by 225 per cent and MSC/MTech Computer Science by 182 per cent. "As students, we are faced with a situation where our voices are being stifled and the possibility of education is being denied to large sections of society. This has been the trend that is on the rise, and as members of the student community we must resist such attempts to deny us what is rightfully ours," adds Uvais.
Another demand put forth by the JAC is to provide accommodation in university hostel rooms to the SC/ST students residing in the Adi-Dravidar hostel. This is affecting the students' after-class activities and college life altogether, they have claimed. "SC/ST students travelling a distance less than 50 km from the campus are allotted rooms in the state-run welfare hostels instead of the campus hostels which have better facilities. Why should they live in those rooms with limited facilities while the better-equipped varsity hostels could easily accommodate them?" MSF unit President Saithu Mohammed told Express on Sunday.
Apart from the SFI, the students' council, the ASA, APSF, NSUI and SIO are the other participating students organisations of the council. It was jointly decided by the JAC to not invite the ABVP to join the committee.