SRINAGAR: The Kashmir University has decided to increase academic fee of students by ten percent every two years after the authorities failed to impose unilateral hike in the fee due to strong resentment from the student community. The latest move has also unnerved the students who describe it as a step towards weeding out students of poor economic background and promoting elitism in the premier educational institution.
Sources said the University of Kashmir administration has decided to hike the academic fee for all the programmes offered by the university to 10 percent after an interval of two years. The move has been termed by the student community as “unjustifiable”.
The students say that the exorbitant hike is only aimed at minting money even as the University receives funding from varied government sources to carry out the academic activities. They say the university receives ample funding from the University Grants Commission, ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India besides the state government.
“This is a state-run university meant to offer highest level education to students. The university must charge affordable fees to students as they secure merit by clearing the entrance examination,” an agitated student told Kashmir Reader.
“It (Kashmir University) is not a private institution where the academic fee is the sole revenue to run the show. This is a government-run body receiving huge funding,” a social sciences student Aqib Ahmad said.
He said the students who can’t afford to go outside for higher studies due to financial constraints, work hard to earn admission at Kashmir University.
“We believe that regardless of financial or social constraints, only those students who have academic excellence would get admission at this institute. However, the move where economic factor has been given a greater importance than academic excellence is worrisome, possibly a step towards making this place affordable to elites only,” another student, Rayees Ahmad from science steam said.
Few months ago, the university administration announced to hike fees to about 300 percent. The decision evoked strong resentment and students hit the university roads to express their anger against the fee hike. Ever since the university administration busied itself in holding deliberations to “overhaul the finances”.
The teaching faculty is also silently resenting the administration’s decision to make university education unaffordable to common students. A group of professors, who do not wish to be identified for fear of reprisal from the administration, told Kashmir Reader that the move will affect those students, the families of whom were not economically sound.
“It (Kashmir University) is now more known to be a money-minting machine than a premiere institution of Kashmir. Firstly, the introduction of double-shift system where crores of rupees were collected without any actual benefit to students on ground and now the hike in fee has been decided,” a senior faculty member said.
“The KU is now known as a money-minting machine than a center of educational excellence,” he said.
He wondered that Jammu University, which is running on the same pattern as KU, is charging much lesser fee to students even with “better infrastructure and quality education” than university of Kashmir.
Vice-chancellor, Kashmir University, Khursheed Iqbal Andrabi, however, justified the fee hike. “The fee that is being charged currently has been fixed several years ago. Since then the value of our expenses has increased and will continue to increase in future. That’s why we decided to increase the fee to 10 percent after every two years. Even after that, it (fee) would remain a nominal charge,” he said.
He said that due to lesser fee, those who can afford take undue advantage of this subsidy. This results in losses to the university. “It (fee hike) won’t create any elitism at the varsity. The fee structure is such that the majority of the students won’t consider the ‘hiked percentage’ as a burden,” he said.
For the economically weaker section of the society, Andrabi said that a provision has been set up by the administration whereby students with weaker economic background will be given fee concessions should the approach the authorities for it.