Published: 29th July 2022
IIT Bombay fee hike protest: Students threaten hunger strike, admin bows down to one demand
The students have been protesting against the hike of 35% in the fee of the MTech and PhD courses. They say previous discussions with the administration have not been fruitful
Students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay have declared a hunger strike as part of their ongoing protests to get the administration to roll back the fee hike for the MTech and PhD courses.
In a declaration, the student body said, "In the all-team meeting of the IIT Bombay Students Against Fee Hike, held on 28th July, it was decided that the students will start a Hunger Strike if the key demands mentioned below are not fulfilled by the administration by 5th August 2022."
Apart from the immediate roll back of the fee hike, the students demanded that they be given representation in the Standing Committee for Student Fee Matters. They also demanded the revocation of the decision of the board of governors to raise the fee by 5% every year.
While the hunger strike was announced late last night, on July 28, the administration today announced that students will be included in the Standing Committee.
In an open house discussion with the students earlier this week, the administration had said that the fee was hiked due to the increase in expenditures of the college. "We then asked for a white paper with a break-up of these expenditures. However, the administration refused to answer these questions," says a PhD student of IIT Bombay on the condition of anonymity.
In 2017, the institute had first proposed a fee hike, which faced opposition from students at the time. The administration then rolled it back, and one student tells EdexLive, that at the time, the administration had agreed during the negotiations that student representatives will be consulted before any decision with regards to fees is taken in the future. "However, they reneged on this promise, and therefore the current fee hike is invalid," says the student.
During an earlier open house on July 19, the students had demanded that the final date of payment of fee be extended. However, the administration has so far ignored this demand.
Discussing the impact of the 35% increase in the fee, the student body said, " Considering that many of the students are yet to come out of the effects of the COVID pandemic (as even the global economy is), and they are having to cope with the steepening inflation, the decision of compounded fee hike was extremely inconsiderate towards the students."
In a chat with EdexLive, one of the students reflects, "The fee hike is just one of the components that the institute has introduced to deal with the rising burden of expenditures that is a result of the government's push towards "self-financing" institutions. Educational institutions are being given loans from the Higher Education Financing Authority (HEFA) instead of grants, and they have to pay back these loans. Our institute has started taking on contractual staff to deal with the costs, and there are issues that this staff has to face as well when it comes to their payments."