Students at the elite Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) are protesting against a massive jump in fees.
For various post-graduate and doctorate courses, the fees have been raised by 7,000-10,000 rupees ($87-125) per semester, between 35% and 60%.
“The break-up fee structure for existing master’s and PhD students shows a significant increase under all the heads, except the tuition fees. This includes hostel fee, registration fee, medical fee, examination, electricity and water charges, hostel and mess establishment charge, student accident insurance fund, student benevolent fee, and gymkhana fee among all, taking the total fee structure from Rs16,500 to Rs23,950,” one student told Indian Express.
New students have it even worse. For instance, for incoming master’s degree students, the hike is “exorbitant,” jumping to Rs25,000 from Rs2,500, the student added.
Changes in the fee structure are never without pushback. Back in 2016, IIT Kharagpur students went on a hunger strike over such a hike. It’s hardly surprising then that over 1,000 students have signed a letter to the IIT-B management demanding an immediate rollback and an increase in fellowship. On July 19, around 100 of them staged a sit-in protest.
The IIT-B director and members of the registrar accepted the letter the same day, but the matter has not been resolved yet.
Why IIT Bombay is raising fees
The university says these hikes were on the card for long—the board of governors had given their nod three years ago—but had been deferred on account of the covid-19 pandemic.
Generating revenue through increased fees is the only way to repay loans IIT-B gets from the government’s higher education funding agency, director Subhasis Chaudhuri told The Times of India.
Justifying the steep hike, Chaudhuri said most students belong to “concessional” groups that receive stipends from the university, which significantly reduce their fees anyway. Moreover, at the post-graduate level, many of them get around Rs12,000 per month as a stipend for teaching and research assistantship.
The students, however, are rattled by the lack of transparency in the move. Besides, they say, the pandemic and inflation had weighed too heavy on them already, especially with no increase in their stipends to match the fee surge.