Published: 19th August 2020
TISS clarifies why its charging lab, studio, medical, computer, Students’ Union fee despite running online classes
The administration also clarified issues regarding extension of fee payment deadline, feeinstallments, financial assistance, semester registration, accessing TISSOL materials
After students raised objections to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences notice on payment of fees and other charges despite not having physical classes, the administration has issued a clarification. The administration listed out the various charges that they were making along with other issues and explained why they were seeking payment for these facilities.
The administration said it was asking for 1000 rupees as computer charges even though students are not on campus because the online teaching is being done though their TISSOL platform. They claimed that additional expenses had to be incurred for purchasing the new software for online learning, and for setting up and maintaining TISSOL, “Even if students are not on campus, all the regular expenses and more are to be incurred under this head during the time when classes are held online. While no funding has been received from the Government to switch to online teaching, the Institute is required to maintain all its computers and networking hardware irrespective of level of usage, and hence there cannot be any reduction of expenses under this head.”
Another issue that students had concerns about is the charging of Rs1500 as medical fees and Rs 800 for medical examinations, the Institute said that it had mistakenly marked this fee under the ‘Medical Examination Fee instead of Examination Fees but assured that the insurance would still benefit the students, “The insurance policy has a pan-India coverage and students can avail the benefits at their locations either in cashless mode or on reimbursement basis. As is the practice, the institute has renewed the policy for all students to get continued health coverage without any issues.”
Students have also demanded to know why they are being asked to pay for a Students’ Union that is not in power, but the administration defends its decision by saying that the Union could incur expenses for organising events in the online mode or towards the end of the semester. With regard to students being charged Dining Hall fees, the administration has said that they are only demanding any outstanding fees, “Additional DH charges are levied for those who stayed back after the second semester end and or during the lockdown (between March and May-June). Hostel charges for this extended period of stay are not levied. Any discrepancies in charges can be rectified on production of supporting documents”
Earlier this year, the TISS Students’ Union had carried out a strong protest demanding that the administration allow students to access their results after the Institute denied access to those who hadn’t paid the fees. Eventually the administration gave in to the students’ demand but several students have complained that the results are still inaccessible to them. However, the administration has said, “Dues from some students are long pending even before the lockdown. The students were given sufficient time and chance for clearing their dues. Hence they need to clear their dues to view their results. However, this has not affected in any way their mobility to the next semester. Irrespective of having outstanding fees to be paid, all students are promoted to the next semester except in the case where limitations are due to lack of attendance in the pre-lockdown period.”
The other issues that the Institute has clarified are about the lab and studio charges, the rationale for charging the development fund, health centre and ID card charges, fieldwork, internship charges and student competency funds. The administration has stated that the lab and studio charges are being levied so the activities are completed by the end of the semester, the development fund charge is being demanded in order to provide basic infrastructure facilities to support the teaching and learning management activities. “The institute counsellors have been providing services to students during March-July and will be available the rest of the semester as well. ID cards are mandatory and will be issued to the students when they come for offline classes,” the circular said with regard to the health care and ID card fees. The administration maintained the same reason for the fieldwork and internship charges as well.
An image of an older protest on the campus
Besides this, the administration clarified issues regarding extension of fee payment deadline, fee installments, financial assistance, semester registration, accessing TISSOL materials and attending online classes, “The fee payment date had been extended till August 17 to enable students to pay the fees. There will be no further extension given beyond this date. Any student facing financial difficulties in making the full payment of fees due to COVID-19 related exigencies, may contact their respective Deans of the school individually. Currently, the semester registration at SMS and TISSOL functions are delinked to enable students to attend classes and access study materials. However, both will be re-linked after the last date for fee payment for all those who have not represented their cases to the Dean and got positively. All rules related to fee payment and semester registration will be active after the extended deadline,” they clarified.
One of the students on the campus that we spoke to said that the administration addressed these issues after the students flooded them with enquiries, “But none of us got any individual responses,” he said. “We’ve been told that if students who can afford to pay their fees then this would help the marginalised students. They have provided students living in remote areas with laptops and are providing aid to them. Which is good but there are some other issues that students have,” he explained. The student said that also said that some of his peers were upset about not being able to access their results, “The institute has already said there is no need to pay fees then why are they still stalling the results of some students?”