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IIT Bombay fee hike: Students’ protests intensify; cite move as 'unfair'

IIT Bombay fee hike: Students’ protests intensify; cite move as 'unfair'

The total fee structure has increased from Rs 16,500 to Rs 23,950, said the students adding that for PhD, the tuition fee for new entrants has been revised to Rs 5,000 from Rs 2,500.

IIT Bombay is one of the premier higher educational institutions in India. (Image source: www.iitb.ac.in) IIT Bombay is one of the premier higher educational institutions in India. (Image source: www.iitb.ac.in)

Hundreds of students from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay have been staging protests against fee hike by the country’s premier institute, citing the move as “unfair” and an additional “financial burden” on them.

The students are protesting against the increase in fee for the autumn semester. Fee for the on-roll PhD students has been hiked by around 45 per cent over the last year's fees.  

The students have said that except for the tuition fees, the fee structure for existing Master’s and PhD courses have witnessed significant increase including hostel fee registration fee, electricity and water charges, medical fee, examination, student accident insurance fund, student benevolent fee, hostel and mess establishment charge and even gymkhana fee.  

The hike is even bigger for the new entrants and for the M.Tech students. The total fee structure has increased from Rs 16,500 to Rs 23,950, said the students adding that for PhD, the tuition fee for new entrants has been revised to Rs 5,000 from Rs 2,500. Similarly, Master’s students will have to bear the tuition fee of Rs 25,000 which was earlier Rs 2,500. The students also expressed their discontent over the manner in which the fee hike was “imposed”.  

The IIT Bombay administration opened up the web portal for fee payment by on-roll students on July 19. “The circular was directly posted on the website of the institute without any communication with the students about the hike. Even the elected student representatives were not aware about the fee hike until they found out from the website,” said the IIT Bombay Students Against Fee Hike Collective formed by the students demanding a complete rollback of the fee hike.  

“The fee hike puts an additional financial burden on the students while they are already suffering under the effects of steepened inflation and the after effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the collective.  

The students submitted a letter to the director in this regard. Apart from a complete rollback of the fee hike, the other demands put forth by the collective are an extension in the deadline for the fee payment, increase in the fellowships for the research scholars and transparency in the expenses occurred out of the fees paid by the students.

Later in the day, the administration sent out the fee circular and opened the portal for the fee payment. “The portal was opened on the very same day (July 19), when the administration had assured the students that it will arrange for an open-house meeting to address their concerns about the fee hike. If the administration had better faith towards the open-house they themselves had assured, and had any openness for a possible course correction, they could have waited till the open house happens before opening the portal,” said the students’ collective.  

“(The open-house was supposed to happen within a week, so they might not have to wait for too long). The IITB Students Against Fee Hike formally condemns the contradictory approach shown by the administration towards this issue, and appeals the administration to be sympathetic towards the concerns of the students and come with an "open mind" for the "open-house." Also, it advises students to delay the fee payment till then, said the collective.

In the 53rd Meeting of the Council of IITs held in September 2019, it approved, in principle, recommendations of the three Member Committee constituted for suggesting reforms in M.Tech system. The Committee had, inter-alia, recommended uniform fee structure for M.Tech programme in all IITs, and for charging the same fee for M.Tech as in B.Tech programmes.  

Institutions are encouraged to move towards sponsored students or even sponsored programmes as per requirement of industry, the ministry of education had said in a statement.  

The ministry of education had said that the decision of the Council of IITs to accept the recommendations of a three Member Committee on reforms in the M.Tech programmes in IITs are based on the facts that there is no fee hike for the existing students. The ministry had said that for new admissions, hike will be gradual over a period of three years or more, as will be decided by the respective Board of Governors of IITs.

The government had further said that needy students will be provided necessary financial support. All concessions and scholarships for SC/ST/OBC and others will continue without change. “The fee hike will discourage non-serious students, who after a few months of stay in IITs, leave the programme midway to take up employment or to prepare for competitive exams. This drop out in the middle of the programme leads to wastage of coveted seats on the one hand and denies opportunity to other serious and meritorious students, on the other,” the ministry of education had argued adding that the fee for the M.Tech. programmes in IITs have not been revised for a long time whereas the cost per student has gone up substantially.

While Ministry of Education has not reacted over the development, IIT Bombay administration refused to comment on the issue.

IIT Bombay is one of the premier higher educational institutions in India. In National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), IITB has secured third position in ‘Overall’ and ‘Engineering’ category, and 11th in the Management category. It stood 4th in the new ‘Research’ category of the NIRF.