Published: 02nd September 2020
Banned from posting anything anti-college, NIFT students use parody accounts on social media to protest fee hike
The National Institutes of Fashion Technology across India hiked their fees by 10 per cent. It was later rolled back to 5 per cent
A few months ago, India witnessed uprisings of students from universities across the country, from Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University to Puducherry's Pondicherry University, raising their voices both online and offline against a hike in their tuition fees. However, this isn't the case in any of the 16 National Institutes of Fashion Technology (NIFT) across the country. Even though their semester fees were hiked in 2020 too, the students say that they have no medium to raise their voice.
On June 13, the students were sent a notice by the institute's administration, prohibiting them from posting anything against the institute and its administration. "Any content maligning NIFT, its policies and employees will be viewed adversely inviting disciplinary action and inter alia, penalties, debarment from sitting the examination, campus placements etc," read the notice which said that the students will have to sign a social media usage undertaking at the time of their admission. Two days later, students started receiving emails, which informed them of the 10 per cent fee hike.
"This was a shocker to us. Since our classes are held online and we do not have access to our labs, equipment or studios, we did not expect this hike to happen," says a student on condition of anonymity. "At the same time, we feel crippled. There is no way for us to protest. We are now seeking help from the JNUSU to raise our voice," she says.
After deliberation, the administration did agree to roll back the hike, but only partially. "The five per cent fee hike still applies. However, the NRI students still have the fees with the 10 per cent hike," the student tells us. "There is no response from the administration's side yet. Now that we have no access to our labs and studios, we are forced to create DIY models or invest in expensive equipment. This is an extra burden for our parents at a time like this," she says.
At the same time, a group of students from NIFTs across the country has created an Instagram handle called @nift_cafh (NIFT Committee Against Fee Hike) and a Facebook page called National Institute of Fee Trade (which also abbreviates to NIFT) to put up videos about the message. "This is done in a very discrete manner. We will be in serious trouble if the administration finds us. But, what the institute is doing cannot be justified," says the student.
We have sent an email to the institute's administration seeking their comments on this issue. This copy will be updated when they respond.