Srinagar: Despite students having already paid nearly Rs 2 lakh for an academic tour more than a year ago, the Central University of Kashmir (CUK) is demanding fresh fee for the same tour from students of the Tourism and Travel Management Master’s course, and is even ‘threatening’ them with a ‘backlog’ if they do not pay, the students alleged.
The third semester students of the Masters in Tourism and Travel Management (MTTM) programme enrolled at the varsity’s Department of Tourism Studies told Kashmir Reader that even as each of them paid Rs 5,000 “specifically for the National Circuit Visit” in the very first semester, the department is demanding fresh charges from them for the tour.
“We paid Rs 5,000 out of the total admission fee of Rs 15,000 for the tour, but the tour organisers are demanding a fresh Rs 5,500 from each of us,” a student alleged.
The department, as per the student, has told them of fresh tour rates, and “we have to book tickets” for them, the student said.
The student said that when they complained to the organiser about the ‘arbitrary’ charges and wanted to know why they should pay double charges for the tour, “he threatened us that ‘you will have a backlog if you do not pay for the tour’”.
“The organiser of the tour has kept a record of the balance of those students who have paid only part of the money,” a student said.
The students said that the department had made the tour “compulsory”, and it carried a crucial 100 marks in their third semester.
“They say that ‘We have to spend the money on many things’. A central university like ours cannot be so poor as to demand double fee for the tour. They get massive funds from the government,” a student said.
Besides the tour, the MTTM students complained that since they took admission at the CUK, they have been paying from their own pockets for “every trip the department organises”.
“Fifteen of us, who were part of an international conference which was held in Ladakh, even paid Rs 4,500 each for the trip. We even took rations with us,” a student recalled.
About the Ladakh trip, a student complained, “We had to fight for accommodation. They crammed eight of us in a single room on the first night. Many of us did not sleep that night as there were no sleeping bags.”
“While the CUK took the credit for the international conference, it was us who paid for it.”
He said that in their second semester, the students paid from their own pockets for an event held in Jammu.
Students who have, over the years, preferred CUK over Kashmir University “are regretting their decision in the face of such issues”, a student said.
Head, Department of Tourism Studies CUK, Prof S Fayaz said they were charging only the “caution money” for the tour from the students.
“The fee they have already paid, stands. We take some caution money at the time of the tour for their expenditures. The university also bears some of their expenditures,” he added.
While the students limiting their tour expenses “within the cap” fixed by the university would be refunded the “entire” caution money, Prof Ramjit from the department, who is associated with organising the tour, told Kashmir Reader that those students who go beyond the cap will be charged accordingly.
Vice Chancellor CUK Prof Meraj-ud-Din Mir asked the students to bring the matter into his notice to “sort it out”.