Published: 05th October 2020
Student body condemns Fergusson College’s 145 per cent fee hike amid COVID pandemic
The students point out that the College has only academic autonomy and not financial autonomy therefore technically cannot increase the fees
The Ambedkarites Students Organisation, based in Pune, has condemned the decision of Fergusson College administration to drastically hike fees for second-year undergraduate students. The ASO has pointed out that the fees has been increased by anywhere between 98 percent for some courses and ranges up to 145 percent. ASO worries that such a massive hike will push students from marginalised communities to drop out since they would not be able to afford such high fees.
ASO, in a statement, accused the Fergusson College of having only academic autonomy and not financial autonomy which meant that they could not suddenly charge such excessive fees. “The fees, which was Rs 2,470 for arts students, has been hiked to Rs 6,070 which is almost a 145 percent increase from the last academic year. For science stream students, the fees has increased from Rs 3350 to Rs 7050 which is almost a 98 percent increase,” they stated.
Comparison of last academic year with current year
“It is important to note that the college has been granted autonomous status only for academic structure. It doesn’t have any financial autonomy. This is why we believe that this fee hike is illegal and an unfortunate misuse of power by the administration,” the student members of the group said. However, the students say that this is not the first time that the college is hiking the fees, “This has been happening for the last three years and every year we’ve been raising this issue with the authorities but we have not received any proper response from the administration,” Rohit Gaikwad, the President of ASO said.
“This is a plan to close doors and keep marginalised students away from Fergusson College. Students from these sections cannot afford the raised fee and many may drop out because of the financial crisis,” they believe.
In its prospectus, the college states that Academic Autonomy was conferred upon the college by the University Grants Commission and Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) from June 2016. Autonomy gives freedom to the college to offer innovative programmes, design curricula and conduct examinations on their own.
Screenshots from the University's website
“We’ve conducted surveys and found out from students about how this is going to affect them,” Gaikwad said. The ASO has gotten feedback from almost 140 students who have also condemned the hike and many are pleading with the administration to revoke it, one of the students says, “Students are attending lectures online from their homes. They have to pay their internet bill as well as college fees which has been increased even the college is closed. Students have the right to know the reason for the fee.”Another says that both his parents are unemployed due to the pandemic and has just about managed to cope but there was no way they would be able to pay the fees now.
The ASO also said that the administration cannot ignore the nation-wide impact of the pandemic, especially on marginalised sections, “The slowdown that the Indian economy is facing has caused many hardships to the labour classes, who have faced severe job and wage cuts. But neglecting this, the college has misused the COVID-19 crisis to hike the fees.”
We have reached out to the college for a response and will update this copy when we receive it.