Hundreds of students at India’s top engineering college — Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) — are protesting the management’s move to nearly double the hostel fees.
College strikes usually don’t make headlines, but this comes just after a proposed 120% hike in tuition fee for undergraduate courses at the IITs. Students fear that there will be even more fee hikes in future as there is a push to make the IITs financially more autonomous.
The popular (but ill-informed) perception is that students from India’s top engineering colleges earn a tidy sum after finishing their studies and mostly settle abroad, so why should the taxpayer subsidise their fee. However, as Karthik Dinne, an alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur (IIT-KGP) pointed out earlier, for over 50% of IIT graduates who make less than the median salary, higher fees would mean longer and bigger loans to pay off and a lesser appetite for risk.
The students of IIT-KGP have been on a hunger strike since Tuesday night after the college administration proposed to increase ‘hostel overhead fee’ from Rs 8,250 to Rs 15,800. This affects all students studying at the institution.
Earlier, the ministry of human resource development had raised tuition fee for undergraduate courses from Rs 90,000 to Rs 2 lakh for students who join the course from 2016. With the hike in the hostel fee, the cost of education for B Tech students at IIT-KGP will increase further.
According to the protesting students, the management wants to increase the fee because the government has proposed to hike the pay over 50 lakh central government employees, including hostel staff, as per the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission. “But we are opposing the move since it is being introduced even before the Commission has made its final recommendations,” said a student, requesting anonymity.
The institute currently has 6,500 undergraduate and 5,500 postgraduate students. Partha Pratim Chakraborty, the director of IIT-KGP wasn’t available to comment.