A steep hike and a deep concern
The nominal fee for education in government institutions in comparison with the exuberant fees of private universities is with the purpose to encourage and facilitate higher learning for as many individuals as possible, and to prevent education from becoming a commodity that would be available to only those who could afford it. Given this, it is only predictable that students of India's top notch Jawaharlal Nehru University have come out in hundreds in protest of the sudden and steep hike in the fees. The University claims that the hike is not huge, the students maintain that it will deal a blow to many coming from deprived families who have the genuine capacity to make it to the elite institution. There is, as a matter of fact, no doubt that the fee hike will affect an tremendous number of students as it will deny opportunity to many lesser fortunate hard-working learners. After the significant uproar of the protesting students, the Ministry of Human Resource Development talked about finding a way out of this. The university's administration claims the rationale for the fee hike is that the fee has not been revised in 19 years. Clearly, a compensation of administrative lapse of two decades cannot be made in one sudden move and expect things to go smoothly and normally. Revising the fee ought to have been a gradual process and not one to appear like punishment for being poor. Such a decision may be interpreted as effectively denying education and opportunity to someone who lacks on only one account to qualify: money. An unfair situation it is, the university informs through official channels that JNU has been incurring charges of Rs 10 crore per annum on account of water, electricity, and service charges, which it has been paying out of general funds received from the University Grants Commission (UGC). This money could be used for the "upgrade and upkeep of hostels" if students started to pay for the services, the Registrar said, as currently, students do not pay these charges. Under the new hostel charges, students will have to pay an additional service charge of Rs 1,700 per month. And, rent for a single room has gone from Rs 20 to Rs 600 per month, and for a double-sharing room from Rs 10 to Rs 300 per month.