New Delhi -°C
Today in New Delhi, India

Dec 10, 2019-Tuesday
-°C

Humidity
-

Wind
-

Select city

Metro cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata

Other cities - Noida, Gurgaon, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Bhopal , Chandigarh , Dehradun, Indore, Jaipur, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

JNU has made partial corrections. But it needs to do more

The larger crisis is of a trust deficit between the vice-chancellor (VC), M Jagadesh Kumar, and the university community of teachers and students, who accuse him of weakening academic standards, pushing an ideological agenda, and autocratic decision-making. The VC should allay these concerns and listen to students.

editorials Updated: Nov 14, 2019 14:00 IST

Hindustan Times
Students of JNU protesting against fee hike outside All India Council For Technical Education, November 11, 2019
Students of JNU protesting against fee hike outside All India Council For Technical Education, November 11, 2019(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
         

This week, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students, across political persuasions, protested against the proposed steep hike in hostel fees and other issues. This involved gheraoing the human resource development minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, during the university’s convocation on Monday, who promised them their concerns would be heard. On Wednesday evening, JNU partially rolled back the proposed hike in room rents for a segment of students. But the fee structure, broadly, remains the same.

The episode throws up a key question about higher education in general, and JNU in particular. Public higher education in India is subsidised, and students must be open to periodic revisions. But it is also important to note that cost recovery cannot be a sustainable model for providing egalitarian higher education. JNU’s low fee structure has enabled thousands of students from marginalised backgrounds to access education, and move up the socioeconomic ladder. The university’s own report shows that 40% of students are from underprivileged families. Any change in the fee structure must take these realities into account. Wednesday’s decision shows the government is concerned about the protests and is willing to make corrections. But it may not be enough, for students remain agitated. It also offers a lesson — future decisions on fees must be done in consultation with the larger student community.

The administration also wanted to implement curfew timings and dress code for students. The idea itself was draconian. The administration had no business imposing a moral code on adult students. It has now stepped back on this, which is welcome. The larger crisis is of a trust deficit between the vice-chancellor (VC), M Jagadesh Kumar, and the university community of teachers and students, who accuse him of weakening academic standards, pushing an ideological agenda, and autocratic decision-making. The VC should allay these concerns and listen to students.