JNU announces roll back of fee hike, students vow to continue protest

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Nov 15, 2019 05:44 AM IST

The decision to revoke the fee hike was taken at the university’s 283rd Executive Council (EC) meeting on Wednesday amid high drama. The administration also rolled back the one-time refundable mess security deposit for students of all categories.

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Wednesday partially revoked the hiked hostel fee for students from the Below Poverty Line category. The varsity also revoked the clauses citing curfew timing of 11:30 pm and ‘appropriate’ dress code for students from the new hostel manual.

Students defaced walls outside V-C office.(Sourced/ HT Photo)
Students defaced walls outside V-C office.(Sourced/ HT Photo)

JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) members, however, said the partial roll-back was merely a gimmick and vowed to continue their protests. Students in JNU from different ideological backgrounds have been protesting against ‘sweeping’ changes to the new hostel manual for the last three weeks. Members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) protested against the fee hike by marching to the University Grants Commission on Wednesday.

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On Monday, around 1,500 students had gathered outside AICTE building, the venue of the university’s third convocation, and shouted slogans against the changes in hostel rules. The protesters had refused to let the guest of honour and Union Human Resources Development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ and vice chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar and other dignitaries leave for several hours. Minor clashes took place between the students and police during the protest. The guests, later, had to be rescued by Delhi police officers and were escorted out by security personnel at around 4.15pm.

The decision to revoke the fee hike was taken at the university’s 283rd Executive Council (EC) meeting on Wednesday amid high drama. The administration also rolled back the one-time refundable mess security deposit for students of all categories from the proposed Rs 12,000 to the existing amount of Rs 5,500.

The monthly rent for single-seater and double-seater rooms will hence continue to remain Rs 600 and Rs 300 respectively, for all students having Junior Research Fellow (JRF), Senior Research Fellow (SRF) and equivalent fellowships or scholarships. Students who are from the BPL category will have to pay half this amount. Earlier, students were paying Rs 20 and Rs 10 for single and double-seater rooms respectively.

JNU registrar Pramod Kumar explained that all students from BPL category — excluding those who have JRF, SRF and other equivalent fellowships or scholarships — will be eligible for a 50% fee concession. BPL students receiving non-NET fellowship and merit-cum-means scholarships, which range between Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000, will also be eligible for the concession.

The administration, however, has not given any clarification over the newly introduced component of service charge of Rs 1,700. “The service charge will vary from hostel to hostel. Each hostel will divide the entire monthly charge among the total number of students it accommodates. BPL student will be given 50% concession on that as well,” the registrar said.

Kumar said that the new fee structure will come into force from the 2020-21 academic session. “We will follow the Central government’s standards according to which student will be eligible to avail concession under BPL category. There will be enough time for students to get their certificates in order by the next academic session,” he said.

JNU students’ union (JNUSU) members, however, said the partial rollback was a gimmick and they would continue protesting. “The university got the news [of fee roll back] out through the MHRD. This shows they (the JNU administration) have lost all credibility. With this new fee structure, the administration is trying to mislead students. We have been saying from day one that there should not be two fee structures on campus. Our protest will continue.” said Satish Chandra Yadav, JNUSU general secretary.

On Wednesday, students also painted walls and floors of the admin building with slogans against the current administration and put soot on their names. Amid chants of azadi to study, students also hung banners denouncing the fee hike and calling for removal of the vice chancellor. Different corners of the admin block, including the entrance to offices of JNU administration, were filled with slogans condemning privatisation of education and demanding free education for all. In July, the administration had prohibited pasting of posters and banners on walls within campus and asked students to put them only on designated boards.

Three elected representatives of the Executive Council, the university’s highest decision-making body, also questioned the legality of decisions taken during Wednesday’s meeting because five EC members were not present. The three members — Moushumi Basu, Sachidanand Sinha, and Baviskar Sharad Pralhad — said in a statement, “We were deprived of their right to participate in the deliberations of the Executive Council on important matters concerning the university.”

JNU’s vice chancellor, M Jagadesh Kumar appealed to students to call off their protests and get back to their classes. “Major concessions have been given to students belonging to BPL category and clauses related to dressing and hostel timings have been removed from the hostel manual as per feedback from the students,” he said.

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    Kainat Sarfaraz covers education for Hindustan Times in Delhi. She also takes keen interest in reading and writing on the intersections of gender and other identities.

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