Srinagar: Even as facilities provided remain the same, the Kashmir University (KU) has ordered arbitrary hike in hostel fees and is asking hostellers to pay in advance for months, besides charging them under “new heads never heard of before”.
Many hostel boarders at KU’s MA and MAK hostels told Kashmir Reader that the varsity this year hiked by Rs 6,000 the first instalment of mess fees.
“We used to deposit Rs 27,000 for mess fee last year. This year, they asked us to deposit Rs 36,600 as the first instalment,” a student said.
He said that the mess fee in 2015 was Rs 22,500 for a year.
After depositing Rs 15,000 as the first instalment of the mess fee, “which would suffice for a year and a half”, another student told Kashmir Reader that they used to pay the amount in instalments of Rs 4,000 or Rs 5,000.
“This didn’t put burden on the students,” he said.
“Every student cannot afford this amount in the first instalment,” a student said.
Many hostellers complained that the hostel authorities had asked them to pay the mess fee till August, “even though we have already paid thousands of rupees in advance”.
“I have already paid Rs 5,000 into the KU’s account, but they told me they will not allow me into the room unless I clear the mess fees till August month,” he alleged.
Students putting up at KU’s MA and MAK hostels said that officials at the two hostels did not allow them to enter the main entrance of the hostels on the very first day they opened after the winter vacation break last week. They said that boarders were asked to pay mess fees for at least 6 months in advance.
“There was no issue regarding fees so far. But since the new warden took charge, we have been subject to torture,” a hosteller said.
Another hosteller alleged that the varsity had hiked the hostel rent “by double the amount” and also begun to charge fee “under a new head”.
“We used to pay the charges for mess, rent and student welfare fund, but this year they have created a new head under the name, ‘Hostel Maintenance’, for which we are supposed to pay additional Rs 1,800,” he said.
“I cannot fathom what this hostel maintenance fee is for,” he added.
While hostellers pursuing the 2-year masters programme were asked to deposit Rs 36,600 in the first instalment, a hosteller said that those enrolled for the 3-year law programme were asked to deposit Rs 43,000 in the first instalment.
“The varsity has already made a law student deposit the welfare fund of 3 years in advance,” he said.
“In a hostel room of a capacity for only 3 beds”, a hosteller alleged, hostel authorities “cram 4 beds into it”.
The hostellers alleged that it was “for the first time they have hiked the fees like this”.
Admitting that they had asked students to pay mess charges in advance, Provost of Boys Hostels at KU, Prof GN Khaki, said that they were doing it “only out of compulsion”.
“Many students have left the hostels and have not cleared the fee. Now the warden has decided that the students deposit the amount for a year in advance and in case a student leaves midway, rest of the amount will be returned,” Prof Khaki said.
“This is a compulsion because we are in deficit by an amount of Rs 6 lakh on account of such students who left without depositing the mess fee,” he added.
Prof Khaki said that the varsity had hiked the annual rent of Rs 3,600 last year to Rs 5,000 this year “only for new hostellers”.
“It remains the same for the ones already putting up in the hostels,” he said.
When asked about the new fee head of ‘Hostel Maintenance’, the provost said, “That is for security. Sometimes they (hostellers) smash windows, damage walls or other items. The fee is refundable.”