IIT Bombay defends fee hike after students opposing it began their relay hunger strike
The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) on Sunday released a statement defending the recent fee hike, a day after students opposing it began their relay hunger strike. Arguing that it needed to “adjust its charges to stay alive and grow”, IIT Bombay added that only eight percent of its funding comes from student fees. It added that the operational expenses will continue to be more than the fees collected despite the hike.
“The majority of our students realize that the government cannot keep subsidizing them beyond a point. IIT Bombay is trying to convince the remaining few students to stop the stir by talking to them,” the institute’s statement read.
According to media reports, the fee hike was approved in 2020 but was kept in abeyance due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The issue re-emerged in July 2022 after authorities proposed a 35 percent hike in postgraduate programs. Students, however, began protesting against the hike, calling it “extremely inconsiderate towards the students”.
The hike in hostel fees – from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,700 – is a major point of contention between IIT Bombay authorities and students. However, the institute has defended the move.
“Given the sharp increase in students, we need to build more hostels and academic buildings. The hostel fee increase is essential to cover actual expenses, allowing our other sources of income to be used to provide better academic facilities,” the statement read.
The tuition fees for new PhD students, meanwhile, were hiked from Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000. In the case of new MTech students, tuition fees rose from Rs 5,000 per semester (after a partial tuition fee waiver) to Rs 30,000 per semester.
Through a statement issued on July 28, IIT Bombay Students Against Fee Hike demanded the immediate rollback of fee hike, the revocation of the resolution that recommended a 5 percent annual fee hike and the inclusion of student representatives in the Standing Committee for Student Fee Matters. .
To assuage the concerns of economically weaker students, the institute recently added four student members as permanent invitees to the fee committee and reduced Rs 1,800 from the Semester Mess Advance (SMA) component of the fees.
Deferral of fees, scholarships for masters students, and the option to pay semester mess advance in two installments were some of the other remedies proposed by the institute.
Despite the olive branch extended by the institute, the students are unlikely to withdraw their hunger strike. In a statement released on Saturday, the collective said its relay hunger strike will continue until the fee hike is reconsidered.
“By making education more expensive in important public institutions like IITs, we are effectively closing the doors of these institutions on many. We are resolved to struggle to keep ourselves on the path of equality and justice,” their statement read.