Published: 03rd March 2020
Pondicherry University says cost of running varsity has gone up 1000%, to justify fee hike
The University defended the fee hike by pointing out that for several years the fees of the University had remained the same
The University of Pondicherry has issued an appeal to the students to call off their strike, which has entered Day 27, failing which they would be liable for action as per the code of conduct. The students have been asked to vacate the administrative building and move their activities to the Ponlait Students Corner where they can hold any activity but peacefully.
In their appeal, the University says, "While the fight for the cause is important, the health of the students protesting for the cause is even more important to the parents. If one completely understand the situation of the University with an open mind and if one is not influenced by percentage numbers and if one understands that marginalised and underprivileged students will still have access to education with existing financial aid and the offer of 20 percent additional offer on tuition fee. This protest shall be put to rest," the authorities wrote.
The University defended the fee hike by pointing out that for several years the fees of the University had remained the same and for some courses, it had remained the same since its inception, "Any amendments to a fee structure after nearly a decade or in some cases over three decades would show an exponential increase and not linear increase patterns. If it has been a yearly increase then this might not have shown figures of 200 or 300 percent increase as some students interpret it. In some professional courses like MBA and computer science courses, the rest of the course fee has been increased by around 39 percent or less," the authorities argue.
They go on to point out that the University has lower tuition fees that several other central universities and that Pondicherry University was probably the only one to provide free hostel accommodation to female students and the physically handicapped. "In addition to the existing state of art infrastructure and facilities, nearly 1500 SC/ST students who are pursuing various PG courses given 100% fee exemption/reimbursement on tuition fees and hostel fee through various scholarship schemes implemented by the university. Physically challenged students are provided 100% free hostel and tuition fees. The girl students are given free hostel accommodations. Pondicherry University provides three different scholarships, namely merit, merit-cum-means scholarship and full fee waiver," the University said in its statement.
They also go on to state that the University provides many scholarships to deserving students and while they wanted to retain the same fee structure and provide free bus service, it was 'unrealistic in the current financial scenario', "We can only do the best with the funds allocated to us while the fees have been constant for decades, at the same time the cost of running the university has increased over 1000 percent in the past few decades. Therefore, revoking the fee hike would mean fall of several other infrastructures and facilities and amenities," they explained.
Accusing the protesting students of having an 'unknown agenda', the authorities said that they had made best efforts to have a dialogue with the students, "They demanded that we reduce the fee hike to 50 percent in MBA and all computer science courses and rollback of fee for all other courses. Therefore, the University offered a 20 percent reduction to underprivileged students but then the demand went back to 50 percent and now they are demanding a complete rollback. The change in stand displays an unknown agenda," the authorities including the registrar believe.
"A few students have started the protest with the sole agenda of “Fees Must Fall”, “Join the Protest”, “Occupy Admin”. But suddenly students added various other demands like transport waiver and 25% reservation for all the courses," the University states. With regard to the 25 percent reservation, the University claims that besides 21 percent reservation for 21 PG courses, there were nearly 90 colleges were affiliated to the University and that they have appealed to the MHRD about the same demand.
In their appeal to the students to call off the strike, the administration also warned that they would not give permission for such protests and that an area would be earmarked for such activities, similar to other campuses. In response though, the Student Council has said that they read the appeal and called it a 'thinly veiled threats' and that they were firm about continuing the protests.