The recent violent protest by “students” of controversial Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) over the issue of hike in hostel prices has ignited a debate over the rationale behind such protests seeking rollback despite the fact that existing fees are already low in the university.
A report by Economic Times reveals that the revised hostel fees in JNU were between one-fifth and one-twentieth less compared to the fees that are borne by students in Delhi and Mumbai IITs, Chennai’s Loyola College or even higher education institutions in non-metro centres like Jalandhar and Indore.
According to the ET report, the revised hostel charges for JNU students are Rs 3,600 per annum and for students from below-poverty-line families, the revised annual charges are Rs 1,800. However, in IIT Bombay and Delhi, the annual hostel charges are much higher amounting to Rs 20,000 and Rs 15,000 per student, respectively.
The hostel charges in educational institutions in non-metro cities such as Loyola College in Chennai comes around at Rs 20,000 per year for students in humanities and sciences stream, while for engineering students, the annual fees are Rs 65,000. It is interesting that the hostel charges even non-metro institutes are much more than JNU, a university located in the national capital with extensive facilities.
In IIM Indore, a student has to pay Rs 25,000 per annum in a triple occupancy during his undergraduate course, while a post-graduate student pays Rs 75,000 per annum for single occupancy.
Reportedly, hostel charges are much higher in most undergraduate colleges as well. One of the premier colleges in the Delhi University – St Stephen’s students has a fees structure of Rs 60,000 per year while students at Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences pay Rs 30,000 per annum.
Further, the educational institutions which are considered be second-tier also charge students multiple times higher amount compare to what was proposed in JNU. Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi (IIIT-D) has a Rs 60,000 per year charge for single occupancy and Rs 45,000 for double occupancy. In National Institute of Technology Jalandhar, a student has to shell out Rs 12,000 per year for double occupancy and Rs 18,000 per year for single occupancy. Similarly, the National Institute of Technology, Andhra Pradesh is currently charging Rs 20,000 per annum.
Despite charging more than JNU, these premier institutes and colleges still subsidise accommodation substantially. According to S Samuel Jeyaseelan, who is the hostel director of Loyola College, the college gives hostel accommodation to students from arts and science streams that includes EWS students, orphans, physically challenged persons and the cost is subsidised by the college.
“We are just able to recover the operating cost from the current charges for hostel accommodation. A large amount is being borne by the institute,” said Sarit Kumar Das, Director, IIT Ropar.
According to Anil Sahasrabudhe, “A simple principle that the institutes should follow is that they should not make hostel rent a source of income. Also, they should incur no loss or no profit from this source”.
The recent protests had erupted in JNU after the university administration had introduced fees for utility services like water and electricity on an actual basis, and a fixed charge of Rs 1700 per month for services like sanitation, maintenance, cook etc.
The room rent was also increased from ₹20 to ₹600 for single-seater and from Rs 10 to Rs 300 for double seater. One time security which is refundable had gone up from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000 and the students have been protesting against it.
Following the violent protests, the JNU administration had announced a ‘major rollback’ in the hostel fee hike. Despite the rollback, the JNU goons had resorted to shocking vandalism during the protest and had desecrated the soon-to-be inaugurated statue of Swami Vivekananda on campus shocking citizens across the country.