Mumbai Students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) have intensified their stir against withdrawal of fee concession to reserved category students.While students in the Mumbai campus blocked the main gate of the institute for the seventh day in a row, their fellow mates in the Hyderabad campus started an indefinite hunger strike on Tuesday.“We will remain seated at the main gate of the Mumbai campus of TISS as a mark of solidarity with our friends at the Hyderabad campus,” said a student. The students in the Hyderabad campus of TISS have demanded to meet the registrar of the institute face to face to have a dialogue with him. On Tuesday afternoon, the acting director of the institute, professor Shalini Bharat, met students in Hyderabad. On Tuesday, interviews and tests were being conducted by the institute for candidates for the next academic year. While the main gate was blocked by protesting students, some volunteered to help the new candidates by showing them in from the back entrance, helping them find the rooms where their tests or interviews were scheduled, and so on. “We don’t want to disrupt any work but we will continue with our protest. Even the new students should know what they are getting into,” said one of the protesting students.What students have to say*Our problem is not just with the institute denying fee exemption to those from marginalised sections, but also for increasingly moving towards privatisation by increasing the overall fees. The situation has worsened with Government’s policy of increasing privatisation of education and inadequate allocation of funds to provide for access to higher education by students from marginalised communities. Government has been decreasing allocation for GoI PMS schemes and, in particular, withholding significant funds to TISS from the University Grants Commission and Ministry of Human Resource Development.*The overall fee was hiked from 2013-14 to almost double the amount in 2016-17 by the institute, with a 45% increase in the intervening years of 2015 and 2016. The high fees of TISS, can by no way match the meagre GoI-PMS amount that the government disburses. *The first meeting with the college administration ended in a walk out by the student delegation as the admin refused to even engage with students’ concerns and demands. The admin even threatened to make students pay the tuition fees upfront and not just the dining hall and hostel fees, if the protests persisted. This is when it was decided to continue our agitation across all four campuses of TISS.What the TISS management has to say*The GoI-PMS is transferred by the concerned government department directly to the student bank accounts. The institute has no role either in the sanction or disbursement of the scholarships. The role of the Institute is restricted to only certifying the bona fides of the student applicants. Therefore, the claim that the TISS administration has stopped GOI Post Matric Scholarships for eligible reserved category students is incorrect.*TISS is following all the guidelines of the Government of India. Course fees for the eligible scholarship reserved category students are still exempted. Students are only required to pay dining hall charges and hostel fees on actual basis, which is the norm in all universities.*The institute is in continuous dialogue with the students since February 21. The administration team met a group of 20 student representatives on February 22 for three hours to discuss their charter of demands. For the 2016-18 batch, all the SC/ST GoI-PMS scholarship holders registered for the Masters’ program in 2016-18 will be permitted to continue with their studies and appear for examinations in March-April, 2018. The hostel charges, additionally are waived off. The payment of dining hall charges are being deferred until the time that the students have the means to do so (as and when they receive the scholarship amount from the Government in their accounts or when they get employed). The consultation process is continuing.