Fee hike will put cherished 'JNU dream' under threat, say students

Fee hike will put cherished 'JNU dream' under threat, say students
Jawaharlal Nehru University students display placards during a protest. PTI

New Delhi: For many students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the proposed hike in hostel fees, if implemented, will mean the end of their "great JNU dream".

A day after the university's students clashed with police as their protest over the steep fee hike escalated, many women students said they would be summoned home if the hike takes place.

The students' union has been on a strike against the draft hostel manual, approved by the Inter-Hall administration, which they claim has provisions for hostel fee hike, dress code and curfew timings.

The draft hostel manual might come up for discussion at the Executive Council meeting on Wednesday and if approved, will be implemented.

According to Amrit Raj, a councillor at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, students currently have to pay Rs 2,500 as mess bill. After the hike, they will have to pay Rs 4,200, as a service charge of Rs 1,700 has been introduced, he said, adding charges for electricity, sanitation and water will be added on top of that.

"We have also learnt that the varsity will also effect a 10 per cent fee hike every year from now. My father is a farmer in Bihar and I have two younger siblings, who are studying. Since I do not take money from my father for studies, they are able to study well," he said.

Raj, who is pursuing his M.Phil, said students get Rs 5,000 as scholarship but the amount is delayed at times.

"Currently, we pay Rs 2,500 out of the scholarship amount as mess charges and the remaining amount is used for our research work and other expenses. But after the fee hike, we do not know what we are going to do," he said.

Raj added that they had signed an undertaking at the time of taking the scholarship that they cannot take up jobs outside, which means that their "great JNU dream" is under threat.

Jyoti Kumari, who is pursuing her masters in Russian language, said she had opted for a professional course because of the job opportunities in Delhi. He father is a farmer in Sasaram in Bihar and has an annual income of Rs 72,000.

"What I will have to pay after the fee hike will be equivalent to my per month family income. My younger sister was also planning to take the JNU entrance but now that appears to be a remote possibility," she said.

Manisha, who is pursuing her masters at the School of International Studies, said she would be called back home if the fee hike is implemented.

"I am currently in my third semester and if the fee hike is effected from January next year, I might not even be able to complete my fourth semester," she added.

Manisha, who comes from Haryana, had fought her way to study in JNU. "After graduation, my parents wanted to get me married but I cleared the JNU entrance exam and convinced them. In Haryana, the perception is still that women should be married off as early as possible," she said.

Monika Bishnoi, who is pursuing her graduation in Korean Studies, said, "I come from Bikaner in Rajasthan. My father is a government school teacher. There is a perception back home that women should only be allowed to study till the time education is affordable."

"My parents do not feel the pinch of paying for my education currently but the fee hike will mean I will be asked to return home," she added.

Bishnoi said almost 51 per cent of students at JNU are women and that is because the institute offers affordable education. Many of the students will have to leave if the proposed fee hike is implemented, she claimed.

The protesting students have been demanding the withdrawal of the draft hostel manual, in which service charges of Rs 1,700 were introduced and the one-time mess security fee, which is refundable, has been hiked from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000.

The rent for a single-seater room has been increased from Rs 20 per month to Rs 600 per month, while the rent for a double-seater room has been increased from Rs 10 to Rs 300 per month in the draft hostel manual.