A NEW notification over the fee structure for the incoming batch of students at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai has kicked up a fresh row. In a notification released last week, the institute has asked SC/ST students of the 2018-2020 batch, who are eligible for the Government of India-post matric scholarship (GoI-PMS), to pay Rs 12,500, which includes hostel fee, dining hall charges and caution money among others, at the time of admission. On the other hand, OBC non-creamy layer students have been asked to pay Rs 30,700 upfront, which besides these charges include medical insurance and students’ union funds. While these OBC non-creamy students were earlier eligible for GoI-PMS, the Centre had on 2015 decided to exclude them from the scheme. OBC non-creamy students of the 2018-2020 batch are the first ones who are not eligible under the scheme.
Apart from the upfront fee, the SC/ST students will have to pay Rs 15,000 per semester in instalments. The OBC (non-creamy) students, too, will have to Rs 15,000 each semester in instalments. Students, who have been protesting the fees charged from GoI-PMS eligible students, said the institute had failed to keep its promise and was going against the rules of the scholarship scheme. They have now submitted a memorandum asking the institute to withdraw the fee structure, maintaining that it would deny the SCs, STs, and OBC (non-creamy) students access to higher education at TISS.
“We request the institute not to charge any fees, including hostel and dining hall charges, from the students belonging to the SCs, STs and OBC (non-creamy) communities during the time of admission for 2018-20 batch. Putting financial constraints on students coming from marginalised communities would deprive them the right to pursue education in the institution of their choice,” reads the memorandum.
“The total amount to be paid is coming up to Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 per month (including tuition and other charges), which is a big amount for students coming from marginalised communities. It is unfair,” said a protesting student. The institute, however, maintained that it had followed the plan of action it had submitted to protesting students on March 10.
A senior official claimed that hostel and dining hall charges were to be paid as monthly instalments. “Students are misinterpreting the notification. During admission, we are asking students to pay around Rs 4,000 as the first instalment of dining hall charges and Rs 5,000 as the first instalment of hostel charges. We are also providing student aid to OBC (non-creamy) students, which they can use to pay the institute,” he said, adding that the institute has exhausted its resources and didn’t have enough funds to operate.
“We are aware that there is a problem in the implementation of GoI-PMS scheme but it is not at the institution level. This has to be sorted out through policy intervention,” said the official.
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