Escalating Fees, Aggravated Students: Dilemma Continues

Escalating Fees, Aggravated Students: Dilemma Continues

As the summer had come to a long drawn end and students had started to gear up for the new academic year, they were in for a shock when the fee payment portal was opened. All UG, PG and PhD students found a INR 5000 increase under the hostel seat rent and establishment fees. This unexpected hike has brought a certain agitation and discontent among the students especially with the PG and PhD community. Team MM brings to you the Fee Hike issue and the timeline of events.

Overview of Last Year’s Fee Hike

The hike in HAIF (Hall activities and Improved Facilities) was decided on 11th of July 2016 to meet the deficit of crores, which the halls were running short of and also to meet the salary hikes of employees. This was to be collected under establishment fees. But when on 18th July, the payment portal for registration opened, the hike was under the mess food. The already agitated students now were really furious upon the management of the officials and they marched upon to the director, but were denied to meet and present their grievances.

The chief warden stated that there is a huge margin of difference between the outflow and inflow of money in HMC and hence to meet this margin the hike has taken place. According to him, the hike was first decided by the students in HMC but couldn’t be passed hence again­­­­­­­­­­ a new proposal with reduced hike was sent for approval, he further added that if the BOG doesn’t approve the hike, then the hiked fee will be either refunded or adjusted in the subsequent semesters. But surprisingly, the students in HMC denied of any discussions of the halls running in deficits and neither any changes took place with fees in subsequent semester.

To know more about the last year fee hike and detailed comparisons of the outflow and inflow of fund, visit:
HAIF 1.0

Effects after hike

Major changes were made in SD hall where many new equipments were procured and installed but the central water heating system and installation of gym equipment still lie in a deplorable state. Curtains have been installed in most of the halls. CVR seems to be least concerned about utilization of HAIF money.
For more details on how the HAIF money was utilized visit:
HAIF 2.0


Current Dilemma

To cater the queries of the students, a meeting was held on 24th July, 2017 at PPA. In the presence of Director Prof. Animesh Biswas, Prof. Simanchal Panigrahi, Prof. K.K. Mahapatra, Prof. Bankim Chandra Ray, Prof. Sukadev Meher, Prof. S.K. Patel (Head TnP Cell, former Chief Warden (2016)), Prof. R.K. Patel, Registrar Shri S.K. Upadhaya, the meeting started out with the PhD students led by a former member of the HMC protesting against the current fee hike. Prof. R.K. Patel addressed the crowd and clarified their doubts. The former Chief Warden took the dais and clarified that people from the batch of 2008 have still not been given their refund owing to which there is a deficit worth around 85 lakhs. Adding to this, the Professor also spoke of how the SD Hall of residence is now fully functioning but as there was no funding from MHRD for things like dining tables and cutlery the institute had to spend more money. Looking into all these factors, a proposal for a fee hike was proposed to the Board of Governors (BOG). The BOG went on to approve what the professor felt as a long overdue hike during the meeting. The hike would also help cover up the 2.5 crore shortage the institute was facing.

Also, Prof. S.K. Patel who is now the Head of TnP and is the ex-Chief Warden and ex- Registrar said since inflation has been increasing since the last year, it is difficult to maintain the same fee every year.

The student populace in the meeting was further addressed by the Director Prof. Animesh Biswas. The director said that he was presented with a budget that had a 2.5 crore deficit by the HMC but a member of the HMC went on to say the issue was never discussed in any meeting. Since the new administration has taken charge recently, they said that they were unaware of any such issues.
 

The Director admitted the fact that something funny is going on in the institute, be it SAC or HMC, with absolutely no record of any expenditure. The Director requested the registrar to take immediate action and said fee payment portal will be extended till 31st July and during this period students will be payning fees as per the fee structure of the spring semester of 2016-17. After this, a mail was circulated in this regard only to the guides of M.Tech. students and not to the scholars, which made no sense because students stayed aloof of the extension of the deadline. Also, the UG students were not informed of the changes in the fee structure, which definitely makes the matter even more controversial.

The Dean (Academics) and the Director along with the other authorities present asked the students to find one representative and present all their problems in a sheet of paper or as a presentation and talk with them after 72 hours. The issues presented will be discussed in the HMC and the HOD meeting and action will be taken accordingly. The authorities assured that if indeed excess amount had been collected, it will be adjusted in the next semester fees.

However, no MoM of the BOG meeting was shared with the students through the webmail which the authorities claimed they had and passed the hike in fees subsequently. With no prior information, the fee was hiked with a substantial and illegitimate amount. The fee hike wasn’t even mentioned under HAIF but was included in the Hostel Seat Rent fee which might question the transparency. Team MM continued further investigations into the whole issue. Team MM got in touch with Prof. SK Patel regarding this issue who said:

“The hike was not merely for these reasons only. As every six months the government changes the minimum wage of the workers according to the minimum wages act, the institute must increase the wage of people in every semester like the gardeners and cleaning staff. To accommodate these changes, the institute has to increase the seat rent.”

When asked why both HAIF was introduced earlier last year and seat rent was increased this year, he said that these fees serve different purposes. The HAIF that was introduced last year would go to the Chief Warden’s office in order to improve the hostel amenities. On the other hand, the seat rent would go directly to the institute. Prof S.K Patel went on to say that these fees are in no way related to one another.

Earlier the price of the curtains that were installed in the hostels in the previous year were billed at 3800 INR to which he said,

It was just the proposed price and not the real one

And after that no further details regarding the ‘real price’ was shared by the authorities. Registrar Shri S.K. Upadhaya said:

The decision has been made for all except the Mtech and PhD students. The fee payment has been withheld till 31st July. But they have to pay according to the last semester norms. In the meantime they have been asked to make a representative and explain the reason for reduction in fees.”

The fee structure is always approved by the BOG for implementation. So, the representative will need to elucidate the grievances properly which further needs the approval of committee and the BOG for final implementation.Besides the mentioned changes, there was also a sudden, unexpected increase in the Medical Fees. On asking about the hike in the medical fees he said:

There is a medical fund deficit of around 20-22 lakhs. Besides every student can claim up to INR 50000 per year for his medical expense and up to 1 lakh INR in 4 years of his career here. If anything serious happens to the student then all the tuition fee will be waived.

He also said that there is continuous establishment going on in the college and a fee hike was expectable. There is continuous power (major power cuts happen often) and water supply, hot water is provided (the central water system has still not been installed) and the hostels are upgraded (there is a lot to be upgraded for the girls and there has been no progress in CVR even after last year’s HAIF hike. And two students are still staying in single seater rooms and even girls are made to stay in dormitories throughout the year).

It all started with the discontent and worried PhD students. So, Team MM decided to catch up with them on a sultry Friday evening. They had plethora of unheard issues to be placed before the otherwise reluctant authorities.
Since they had no student representative, they ought to go in groups to put forward their grievances. However, last year their guides had got a threatening mail to put a finger on the lips of the agitators. They had to step back from any discussion with the authorities since they were concerned that their guides may take action against them, which might affect their future. With steeper increase in the fees again this year, they went again unitedly to dig out the reason for another unreasonable fee hike. Even after being a government funded institute, a fee hike at the start of every academic year calls for retrospection and investigation. Moreover a fee hike of 100% in one year isn’t something which is justifiable.
They further explicated that any fee hike should be done from the next batch and not burden the present batch. Even if there is a hike it must be mentioned under the HAIF head and not include the hike in pre-mentioned heads. One of them had to say that, “NITR hasn’t been showing its UC since last year due to which there is no inflow of grants from MHRD and financial strain has been increasing on the students exponentially.”

To compensate the fiscal deficit stated by the authorities there are numerous ways that can be implemented but consecutive fee hike and burdening it totally on students is never the solution. For some of the proposed solutions visit: HAIF 3.0
Look in “Of Balance and Solutions”

The students protesting, hope for a positive response and legitimate action to be taken by the institute administration. According to officials, the raised fee is utilized in the best possible way. But there are some loopholes like the installation of central water heating and improvement of facilities in each and every hall, which are neglected from the past few years and hence provide a doomed picture towards the HAIF issue and regular fee hikes. The deficit can be known in detail when the audit of the last academic year is out. The student community needs an urgent stand on this issue and better understanding of the fee hike. The administration needs to find the optimal solution and keep the status quo maintained.

Campus Buzz

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