Tata Institute of Social Sciences to Change Fee Structure, Students Protest Over Impact on SC/STs
Students have been on strike, called by the TISS students' union, since February 21 against “privatization of education,” and the “withdrawal of financial aid to GOI-Post Matric Scholarship students from SC/ST category across all its campuses”.
Students protesting about fee hike at the main gate of the Mumbai campus.
New Delhi: The students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences are up in arms against a notification issued by the institution changing the fee structure.
They have been on strike, called by the TISS students' union, since February 21 against “privatisation of education,” and the “withdrawal of financial aid to GOI-Post Matric Scholarship students from SC/ST category across all its campuses”.
The union alleged that while the members of the administration did meet the students but they have been heard only “selectively”.
Demands were heard by them but they did not hold any discussion on them, they said.
The students are demanding the notification for present GOI-PMS students (2016-18 and 2017-19) to pay for fees (tuition, Dining Hall and Hostel) to be retracted with immediate effect.
The Student Union have presented a charter of demands to Shalini Bharat, acting director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
“The notification gives us no choice but to voice against policies that will not only leave marginalized students across TISS campuses to fend for their own selves, but also mar institute’s reputation and its claim to social justice,” the charter said.
“The abandonment of core ethos is to be withstood by each student of TISS. All students will rise in union to stop the onslaught on their rights,” it added.
More than 500 students have been holding a protest at the main gate of TISS Mumbai while there have been protests in Hyderabad, Guwahati, Tuljapur campuses of the institute as well. Students have also contacted different ministries like Ministry of Social Welfare and Ministry of Tribal Affairs to intervene.
The TISS administration have appealed to the students to call off the strike, offering to waive off hostel charges are waived off and deferring dining hall charges till the students have the mean to pay for the batch of 2018. For 2019 batch and 2020 batches, they have waived off course fee including the tuition fee for the SC/ST students eligible for GOI PMS. Only the hostel and dining hall charges on actuals shall be payable.
The students, however, have refused to call of the strike till the notification has been withdrawn.
The student body allege the new notification will adversely impact the enrollment of students from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities. They said that the number of OBC student has dropped sharply because of withdrawal of financial aid to OBCs students in 2015. “The enrolment of students from OBC category has already dropped in the institute. An estimated 9% drop has already been witnessed and now the SC/ ST students will also be dropping out if the situation continues,” it said.
In the charter presented to the administration they said, “As it has been noticed that from the year the roll back of the fee waiver has been announced by TISS administration for OBC (NC) students the enrollment of OBC students has undergo with sharp decline. So, this will lead to curb down the accessibility of education by the students coming from marginalized community. Over 500 students in different levels of their degree are impacted and stand to be further impacted by these policies.”
Students on the campus complain that along with this notification, TISS has been constantly hiking fees due to which many students have been forced to drop out. “The kind of fee that TISS demands, the withdrawal of financial aid along with central government cutting funds are completely against the spirit of affirmative action which seeks to provide opportunity to students to study in universities like TISS,” said the statement.
The students have found support with the teachers’ association. TISS SC/ST Employee’s Welfare Association and the TISS Teachers’ Association met the students at the main gate of the Mumbai campus to extend their support and solidarity. Around 22 faculty members of TISS Hyderabad have issued a solidarity statement, while 33 faculty members from TISS Guwahati has sent a letter in support.
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