During a meeting between various stakeholders and Mumbai University (MU) officials Thursday to discuss the proposed fee hike for undergraduate courses, students’ organisations firmly opposed the proposed increase in fees. Some students’ organisations suggested that either the fee hike be reduced from 25 percent, or the varsity take responsibility of its underprivileged students.
If passed by the MU management council, the proposal for the hike — which is currently on hold due to opposition from various political unions and students organisations – will enable colleges to hike fees by 25 per cent.
MU had formed a committee in 2012, under the chairmanship of its former pro-vice-chancellor Ashok Pradhan, to review the fee structure of affiliated colleges. The committee’s report was tabled at the management council meeting held in June 2013 for discussion. The Pradhan committee recommended that basic infrastructure and teaching facilities, human resources and financial transactions and even performance of institutions would be considered before they were allowed to hike fees.
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Last month, when the fee hike proposal was put forth, it was not only opposed by teachers’ and students’ organisations, but was also discussed in the weekly Cabinet meeting in which Arif Naseem Khan, Minister of Minority Affairs, and Varsha Gaikwad, Minister for Women and Child Development, too opposed the move.
While students organisations such as Prahar Vidhyarthi Sanghatana and Maharashtra Navnirman Vidhyarthi Sena opposed the fee hike completely, organisations like National Students Union of India (NSUI) said they will support the fee hike only if the varsity administration take the responsibility of poor and underprivileged students.
“The university cannot demand a hike as they have not conducted an audit for over six years now. On what basis are they recommending a hike? Today they did not clarify why they want to allow a hike. They told us the meeting was called just to give a hearing to all the parties which opposed the proposal, and the same would be tabled in the management council meeting.
The university has no control over its affiliated colleges which charge more fees than the fee structure prescribed by the university.
“Taking all these aspects into consideration, we oppose the proposed 25 per cent fee hike,” said advocate Manoj Tekade, member of the Prahar Vidyarthi Sanghatana.
“Fee hike is not an option for development of colleges. Even last month, only because we protested , university officials agreed to discuss the fee hike recommendation with stakeholders. It would have otherwise been tabled in the management council meeting and the university would have gone ahead with implementing the hike,” said Sudhakar Tamboli, Mumbai University senate member from MNVS.
“We have taken feedback from all the parties who had objected the fee hike proposal. We will table it in the management council meeting and the council members will take a final call,” said Naresh Chandra, pro-vice chancellor, MU.
The university’s management council was about to clear the proposal to hike fees in its 714 affiliated colleges by 25 percent from the academic year starting June.
However, following opposition from teachers’ and students’ unions, and its own cabinet ministers, the state government had to ask the varsity not to implement it.
Two committees formed by the varsity, had recommended the hike in tuition fees and other components for unaided courses such as BMM and BMS, as well as traditional courses started after 2000.
The previous hike for these courses was approved in the 2008-09.
Hence varsity authorities feel it is time that colleges with genuine needs be allowed to hike fees.