Published: 25th November 2019
Adivasi, North East students from TISS reiterate demand for affordable education, extend support to JNU
The three forums — the Adivasi Students' Forum, North East Students' Forum and Progressive Students' Forum are demanding a pro-student mechanism for the current system of fee payment
Three student forums from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences have issued a statement demanding accessible and affordable education for students. TISS has been in the spotlight since last year for drastically increasing fees and cancelled some of their prominent scholarships, which has left many students from socially backward communities in the lurch.
The three forums — the Adivasi Students' Forum, North East Students' Forum and Progressive Students' Forum are demanding a pro-student mechanism for the current system of fee payment. "The issue of fees amount, payment date and semester registration and scholarship/aid is a persistent problem which has not seen a sustainable solution till date," the students said. They claimed that due to deadlines, students have been forced to look for other 'undesirable alternatives to continue their studies in the institute.'
"There has been a consistent decline in the enrolment of students from SC, ST, OBC (NC) and other marginalised sections, more prominently evident since 2014. To uphold the social justice, a social science institute like TISS Must look into this situation more seriously and come up with a sustainable solution for the issue," the students wrote in their statement. The student bodies also pointed out that there had been a consistent failure of the institutional mechanism where students were not made aware of whether or not they were getting financial aid. "This builds their uncertainty and might lead to them having to arrange for money at the very last minute which is extremely difficult for students from marginalised backgrounds. While there are technical issues with payment of huge sums, the larger issue of students being unable to pay large sums in one go cannot be side-lined," they explained.
The students place three demands in front of the TISS management — First, that the management must establish an option of fee payment through installments and that they must have the option to pay dining hall, hostel and tuition fee separately. Secondly, the students must be given more time to pay fees at the very least 15 days after the credit of scholarships. Lastly, the students demand an overall rationalisation of fees and that the hostel charges and the process must be made more transparent.
Extending their solidarity to students in JNU, IIT Madras and IIT Guwahati, the student body said, "Many students are on the streets defending the very idea of free public education. It this context it is important to fight for our rights for affordable and accessible education at every academic space including TISS. It is important that the student body comes together in solidarity of the larger movement," the students said.
One student even took to Facebook to say that the administration explicitly tells the students that they will not let TISS convert into JNU or JNU, "The first day at TISS we were told the institute is a legacy and not a brand. The 30-50k fee per semester excludes accommodation and meals. Please note, many students leave TISS every year after clearing multiple level entrance test because they cannot afford the expenses. They ARE a brand."