Published: 18th September 2023
Karnataka: AIDSO, students protest against fee hike at Maharaja's College, Mysuru
The fee now stands at Rs 7,500, which students find difficult to pay all of a sudden
Undergraduate (UG) students pursuing Arts and Commerce at Maharaja's College, Mysuru, Karnataka, are worried about their semester fees being hiked by over Rs 3,000. Starting yesterday, September 15, Friday, a continuous protest is being held at the college by the students and the All India Democratic Students' Organisation (AIDSO). They are demanding an immediate rollback of the hike.
AIDSO District President Subhash informs that the semester fee at Maharaja's College was much less, about Rs 3,00-4,000, as compared to other government colleges in the state, making it a preferred higher education destination for students from financially weaker backgrounds. However, with the hike, the fee now stands at Rs 7,500, "Students are finding it difficult to pay this amount all of a sudden," Subhash alleges.
According to the students, though Maharaja's College is a government college, it is maintained by Mysore University. "The college is now charging us Rs 7,500 for the last four semesters, for the first and second years," says Bhimraj, a student of the college. "If we could pay this amount, we could have paid Rs 2,000-3,000 more and opted for admission in a regular government college where the fee is Rs 10,660," adds another student, Abhi.
The students are also being asked to pay Rs 1,200 extra as Computer Lab fees and another Rs 1,200 as University fees, alleges Subhash. "No Computer classes have been conducted for them in the last two years," he alleges, adding that according to the Mysore University website, students from the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities are exempted from paying the examination fees, however, Maharaja College is not following this principle and asking all its student to pay the fees for the last four semesters.
"They are being told by the authorities that unless they pay, they wouldn't be allowed to sit for their final exams," he claims. Students corroborate this fact. Abhi further alleges, "They are saying that if we do not pay this money (the semester fees), we will not be given admission to the final year."
The students mentioned that if they were provided all the required facilities, they wouldn't mind paying the hiked fee. But even their scholarships were not being disbursed properly, they claimed. Subhas says, "Earlier, they were promised that the hiked fees would be returned to them in the form of scholarships, but though the students paid about Rs 9,000, the scholarship refund they received amounted to only Rs 5,300." Bhimraj adds that only some of them received this refund.
In addition to these issues, the AIDSO president alleges that the college asks students for Rs 10,000-15,000 more to give them their degrees after the completion of their courses. "We intimated Registrar of Mysore University, Professor Mahadevan, about all these problems and though he acknowledged that extra money should not be collected, Maharaja's College authorities are not listening to us," he said. "We spoke to the principal today (September 16) but the authorities are not taking us seriously," Bhimraj claimed.
The students plan to continue their protest till the college brings out a solution. "The constant rise in fees is detrimental to students and education as it contributes to a decline in student enrollment, particularly among those from impoverished backgrounds such as children of farmers and labourers. A memorandum was received by University Registrar Prof Mahadevan, who assured us that he would address the students' issues and announced that examination fees from the past two years will not be collected from SC/ST students," reads a press release from AIDSO.
It may be noted that the student organisation, as well as pre-university college (PUCs) students, held another protest on September 14 in front of HD Kote's Tehsildar's office, demanding better infrastructure, proper drinking water facilities and toilets for boys and girls in their colleges. "There are two PUCs in the town. One of them is co-ed, whose building dates back to 1961, and is falling apart," Subhash said. The protesters submitted a memorandum in this regard to the tehsildar.