Published: 08th December 2021
Is this education or a business? Steep 8x fee hike sparks protest at Osmania University, police struggle to contain situation
The protest started in front of the administrative building on December 7. The students state they will intensify their protest if their concerns are not addressed
Osmania University (OU) students, including several activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), were found protesting against the fee hike introduced in various courses on Tuesday, December 7. Students gathered in droves at the administrative building. As per videos shared on the Facebook profile of Sreesailam Veeramalla, National Executive Member of ABVP, about 300 students kicked down the gate to enter the premises. They were later taken into custody and sent to the Amberpet Police Station by the police.
Fees of engineering, pharmacy and PG courses in OU, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) and Mahatma Gandhi University are likely to have an increase of more than 8x in a circular issued recently. Engineering fee hikes were proposed by varisities and given the green light by Telangana's Department of Education in September 2021. The rise in fees for Arts and Science courses has now sparked protests by students, "In some cases, the fee hike is eight to nine and even ten times the amount," rues ABVP OU President and State Joint Secretary M Suman Shankar.
How much was the fee hike? Quoting from the circular, Sreesailam Veeramalla posted on Facebook stating that, in the stream of Engineering, the course fee has jumped from Rs 18,000 to Rs 35,000 and the self-finance fee is up to Rs 75,000. MA In Arts and Social Science (regular courses) have gone up from Rs 2,800 to Rs 14,000 and the self-financed courses fee has shot up to Rs 21,000 from Rs 3,800. The fee for MSc courses is now Rs 20,490 while it was previously Rs 3,800. The MCom regular fee is now Rs 30,000 and MBA has been raised to Rs 35,000. Sreesailam took these figures from the circular that was issued, he says.
"What is the difference between a public and private university if the fee is hiked to such an extent?" asks M Suman Shankar, who was also at the protest. Citing the fee reimbursement scheme for students below the poverty line, Suman alleges that students will continue to struggle to pay fees even if part of their fee is reimbursed. "Looking at them, other private colleges will hike their fees up even more. Is education a business?" he asks. Dismissing the question that this might have been done to maintain the campus, he says that for an institution like OU, which is over a hundred years old, it should be the government's job to maintain the campus.
Sreesailam Veeramalla adds that the protest was also to implore the varsity to fill in the vacant teaching and non-teaching staff posts. He also added that they will start protesting at the offices of Navin Mittal, Commissioner, Collegiate Education and Technical Education, and Telangana State Council of Higher Education's office in Masab Tank.
Hyderabad District Secretary of the All India Students' Federation (AISF) Naresh Garra says that the fee hike is more pronounced when one looks at self-financing courses. "Even if students will good ranks, who come to OU with the hope that they will be able to avail quality yet subsidised fees, have to pay such atrocious fees, how is it justified?" he asks. AISF is planning a rally from the engineering college on December 7, against the fee hike.