Panjab University okays up to 7.5% fee hike for upcoming session
The senate, the apex governing body of the varsity, has approved a 5% hike for traditional courses and courses offered by four of its premier institutes. As per the agenda, for self-financed courses, a 7.5% increase with a cap of ₹7,500, has been approved
In a move that won’t go down well with the students, Panjab University (PU) senate on Saturday approved a fee hike for the academic session 2023-2024. This comes at a time when the university is struggling to manage its finances amid a fund crunch.
The senate, the apex governing body of the varsity, has approved a 5% hike for traditional courses and courses offered by four of its premier institutes. As per the agenda, for self-financed courses, a 7.5% increase with a cap of ₹7,500, has been approved. Self-financed courses are run on the fee collected from students and hence have a higher fee structure.
Proposal of premier institutes turned down
The University Business School (UBS), University Institute of Pharmaceutical Studies (UIPS), Dr SS Bhatnagar University Institute of Chemical Engineering and Technology, and department of laws had proposed a hike of 15%, however, the senate approved an increase of only 5% for these courses. A ₹10,000 per year fee on account of infrastructure/lab development fee was also proposed to be charged from each student admitted afresh from these courses but this has also been removed from the agenda now.
However, an annual development fee of ₹500 will be charged for all traditional courses including these. Along with the 5% hike this year, there will be an annual hike of 5% as well, rounded off to the next hundred, for these courses.
Senators divided on hike
The senators remained a divided house on the fee hike. Senator Satya Pal Jain spoke against it and said that it would prove detrimental for students coming from lower middle-income families. “A hike of 5-7% may be marginal for the privileged but it’s not so for these (middle income) families. If funds are needed, why don’t we impose cuts on ourselves and the benefits we draw? Why must we only take it from the students,” he questioned. Many other senators also expressed similar views.
Senator Nidhi Gautam was among the senators who spoke in favour of the hike, stating that it is essential for infrastructure upgrade. She revealed that in some departments that offer professional courses, computers are around 13 years old, which affects students’ placements as they have to compete with students from institutes who have better facilities.
Senator Rajat Sandhir also argued that fee is hiked annually by all schools, colleges and universities and even after the hike, the fee charged by PU will be much lower than what is being charged by other public institutions.
Vice-chancellor Renu Vig clarified that the university is offering aid to EWS students and other categories of students, including orphans or those whose father has passed away, meritorious students, sportspersons and SC/ST students. Financial aid was offered to 1,959 students in the last academic session by PU. The agenda was passed with the hike for four institutes revised after arguments made by the senators.
Second hike in 2 years
This will be the second fee hike in as many years and is expected to enhance the annual revenue by over ₹1 crore.
Before the 2022-23 session, the varsity had last increased the fee in 2019-20. Thereon, though a 7.5% fee hike for self-financed courses and 5% for traditional courses for new entrants in the 2020-21 academic session was proposed, the PU syndicate in May 2020 had decided to defer it indefinitely in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic’s outbreak.
Student bodies protest
Student bodies have already started protesting against the fee hike. Students For Society (SFS) submitted a memorandum to senate members and demanded that fee hike be withdrawn. Joint secretary of Panjab University Campus Students Council Manish Boora also added that students are already concerned about this. “Increasing the fee would create financial burdens for many students, making higher education less accessible to those from low-income backgrounds. The decision must be taken back,” he said.