Published: 12th December 2019
Who can pay so much? SRFTI, FTII students protest against high admission fee for film courses
Application fee for the combined entrance examination to both institutes, the Joint Entrance Test (JET) 2019 ranges from Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000
The students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) are not happy with the 'exorbitant' admission fees they have to pay to even apply to these two prestigious film education institutes. But the students have decided to not go into non-cooperation mode as of now. They would rather exercise the legal option and protest when possible.
Application fee for the combined entrance examination to both institutes, the Joint Entrance Test (JET) 2019 ranges from Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000 (Rs 1,250 to Rs 3,125 for SC/ST/PwD candidates). This makes JET the costliest entrance examination, say students, to any public-funded institute in India. JET fees are almost four times as high as the next costliest exam to a public-funded institute, the JEE Advanced and the students have made a list of these institutes as well. Application fees at even a private film institute like Whistling Woods are Rs 3000, they claim. Before the introduction of JET for 2018 admissions, application fees at FTII was Rs 2150 (Rs 650 for SC/ST/PwD) and that at SRFTI was Rs 2,000 (Rs 500 for SC/ST/PwD).
"The fees are extremely high and are hence discriminatory as an entire section of society is denied the opportunity to write the entrance exam let alone study in this public-funded institution. Also, the report compiled by the JET committee shows that these institutions have earned a revenue of Rs 1.8 crore and Rs 2.1 crore for JET 2018 and 2019 respectively. These institutions have the constitutional responsibility to educate students from all sections of our society. But rather they chose to earn revenue by exploiting applicants. This makes JET unfair, discriminatory and immoral in nature," said Manas Krishna, Vice-President of the student body at SRFTI. Manas said that it does not matter where they are investing the money but earning such a huge profit from the admission test in itself is not right.
While the FTII students had written to their higher authorities, SRFTI students have been demonstrating after class every day to persuade the administration to decrease the fees. But the administration or the Director cannot take a decision without consultation with the Governing Council who meet only periodically. "Presently there is no GC meeting for SRFTI and it will take time for the governing council to be formed and to sit on it. Until and unless there is a recommendation from both FTII and SRFTI, the JET committee will not sit down to make changes," said Former President of the students' body, Nairita Thakurata. "Both FTII and SRFTI need to go on a full-on protest only then the change can happen since it is not just an administration matter of SRFTI alone."
The students feel that the government doesn't want to fund film schools or make it accessible to people from lower classes and castes. They say that the ministry and administration are well aware of the problems and what they can do to solve the issue. The FTII GC decided to bring some changes to the fees but said that the changes will not be applicable this year as advertisements have already gone out. They proposed that the fee for a single paper be the same — Rs 4000 — but said that the fees for applying for two courses can be cut down to Rs 6000 from Rs 8000 and for three papers Rs 8000 from the present fee of Rs 10000. "We are not happy with this. We do not think the base fee of Rs 4000 for a single course is justified," said Manas. "The annual budget for SRFTI is not more than Rs 30 crores and that is nothing for a government to fund," he added.
Whatever work film school graduates produce actually serves the nation, say SRFTI students. Whatever accolades they win in all these international festivals do take country's name forward and the industry also employs a lot of people so how can it just be about the economics of it all, ask the young filmmakers.