The Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay has asked 350 post-doctoral fellows and Research Associates (RAs) to vacate their rooms to make space for the new batch of students who will join the institute this academic year.
The institute’s student affairs dean, Soumyo Mukherji, recently sent an email to faculty and other staff explaining why these students have been asked to move out.
The mail says no accommodation will be provided to RAs, post-doctoral fellows (PDFs), some grades of teachers and candidates sponsored by other institutes or corporate houses. Mukherji said hostel rooms are currently accommodating double the number of students they were meant for and if students don’t vacate rooms, there will be no space to house the new entrants.
“Let us reign in the number of students we admit (or at least commit hostel accommodation to),” the letter reads.
The research scholars, however, said this puts them in a difficult situation, as they only recently submitted their thesis and finished the process of VIVA.
“Most of us are working as RAs with professors at the institute. We have at least another six months left to publish our research papers and the institute is asking us to vacate our hostel rooms now,” said a student.
These students are also worried about finding alternate accommodation in Mumbai – where rent is very high – on their research stipend.
“As RAs, we end up paying Rs 1,100 for hostel accommodation on the campus, but if we move out and find houses around the campus, the rent itself will be more than the stipend we get during our research,” said another MPhil student.
Some students have already started looking for accommodation in Powai and neighbouring areas, but are daunted by the prospect of having to pay Rs20,000-22,000 a month for a one-room-kitchen flat.
“As we are also working as RAs, most of us looked for accommodation around the campus and are in no position to shell out such money for rent,” he added.
Students said the management has not directly informed them about their decision, but hostel wardens and other staff are being asked to persuade students to vacate the campus.
While 1,800 students, including those who finish BTech and MTech, passed out this year, the new batch has 2,607 students. The IIT-B campus has residential space for 8,007 students, but had 10,050 students on roll in January 2016. Even if the institute manages to squeeze in more students into the rooms, only 9,571 will find accommodation.
“We are asking students to make way for new entrants and stop occupying space indefinitely,” Mukherji said. PhD students get a scholarship for five years from the central government and IIT-B increases this by another year.
Mukherji said many students have pushed their stay for almost seven years on campus and only now are being asked to leave the campus.
“We are asking them to move out of the campus and start looking for jobs and make a career for themselves. They should realise hostel facilities need to be shared with their juniors and they cannot claim their rights forever,” he added.
Students are hoping they will be allowed to stay on campus until they get a job or cheap accommodation close by. “The management is leaving us with very little option at present,” said a student.