In a first, all four office-bearers of the Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC) came together to protest against the hike of examination fee for students in the economically weaker section (EWS) on Wednesday. The students blocked the front gate of the administrative block of the university for three hours from 2 pm to 5 pm. They locked the entrance gate and sat inside, surrounded by security personnel. The students said the authorities had increased the exam fee of EWS students from Rs 1,430 to Rs 2,500.
They added that other students paid Rs 2,575 and the authorities had just waived Rs 75 for EWS students. The exam fee is Rs 2,575 in a majority of undergraduate and postgraduate courses. A student can avail the EWS concession if the family’s annual income is less than Rs 2.5 lakh.
“We have been trying to resolve this matter over the past one week by meeting the authorities. We’ve been collecting past year’s circulars on fee structure and were literally doing their clerical work,” said PUCSC president Kanupriya.
She added that this was a farce in the name of fee concession. In a representation submitted to the Controller of Examinations (CoE), the PUCSC stated, “It is such a ridiculous notion that examination fee for other students is Rs 2,575 and for EWS students only Rs 75 has been waived off. We have been trying to resolve this issue by table talks for the past one week, but redundant bureaucracy is not giving us any solution.”
The students demanded that the exam fee for EWS students must be rolled back to Rs 1,430 immediately. They also demanded that the submission deadline for exam form should be extended from October 8 to October 15 so that the students got ample time to pay the fee. They said many had not paid their fee due to the pending decision on the matter.
“The circular on the fee hike was issued around 10 days back and since then we’ve been running from pillar to post but the authorities took no note of it. We received so many calls and letters from EWS students; now they’re saying a decision cannot be taken as the CoE is on leave,” said PUCSC vice-president Daler Singh.
While the authorities have asked for time till 11 am on October 4 to study the issue as the CoE was absent. However, the students were adamant and continued to block the gate as the matter has been pending for over two weeks now. The authorities finally agreed to extend the form submission deadline to October 15 till 11 am. The students said if the fee hike for EWS students was not rolled back, they would stage another dharna.
“We will protest at a larger scale if the hike is not rolled back. What’s the point of the student council if they do not listen to our demands? They make us run around in circles and each issue takes a whole year to get resolved,” said PUCSC secretary Amarinder Singh. He added that the EWS students got a concession in tuition and exam fee. Their exam fee is at least Rs 1,000 less than that of other students.
The university issued a press note stating that the deadline had been extended to October 15. It also mentioned the dates for late submission of the exam form.
For late fee with Rs 2,075, the deadline is October 22, with Rs 6,075 it is October 29, with Rs 11,075 it is November 5, and with Rs 22,075 it is November 26. The university had increased the examination fee by 5 per cent in July. While the Senate had approved an overall hike of 5 per cent in tuition fee for old students, a 10 per cent hike was decided for new students. However, the Senators had managed to bring the exam fee hike down from Rs 200 to Rs 75.