Hostel Fee Hike 'Rollback' an Eyewash, Say JNU Students

An MHRD official has tweeted of a 'major rollback' and asked students to 'get back to classes.'

New Delhi: Following massive protest by students, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has reportedly rolled back its proposed fee hikes. However, this rollback is understood to be partial and certainly not a “major” one as claimed by the government.

“Executive Committee announces major roll-back in the hostel fee and other stipulations,” R. Subrahmanyam, a Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) official tweeted, adding that it was “time to get back to classes”.

Media reports on the rollback are being shared widely on social media by many in jubilation but students, teachers and former students’ unions members have called the decision an “eyewash”. They have claimed that only the hostel fees have been somewhat reduced but the utility and service charges, which had never been levied on students before, have been retained. There’s no clarity on curfew timings and dress code either. 

As per the revised decision, the room rent for single occupancy will be Rs 200 while for double, it will be Rs 100. The caution deposit will be Rs 5,500. The service charges will continue to be fined at Rs 1,700. The varsity will also provide assistance for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) students,” The Indian Express reported.

The students have been protesting against the hostel and mess fee hike, implementation of a dress code and curfew timings since October 28, 2019. University hostel fees were raised from Rs 20 per month to Rs 600 per month for single rooms, and from Rs 10 per month to Rs 300 per month for double sharing hostel accommodations. A fixed fee of Rs 1,700 would also have been charged.

Also read: ‘Question of 40% of JNU’s Future’: Day After Protests, Students Say Agitation Far From Over

“Students still have to pay an extra Rs 1,700 for services plus utilities as per actuals. The biggest hikes are in making students pay these extra charges,” Ayesha Kidwai, a professor at JNU, said in a Facebook post, sounding a cautionary note on premature celebrations.

Calling the claims of a “major rollback” misleading, former JNU Students’ Union president N. Sai Balaji said, “In order to save their face and create a false narrative, the JNU admin, in collusion with the Modi government, is fooling the students and people of this country.”

Using the hashtag #JNUFeeHikeRemains in his social media posts, Balaji pointed out that just a portion of the room rent has been reduced. “The portion of service charge and the policy of students paying for salaries of mess workers, hostel staff, hostel maintenance and other charges which the admin conservatively estimated to be Rs 1,700, along with electricity and water, remains. Meaning 95% of the fee hike remains,” he said. 

In the point-by-point response, he also highlighted that the curfew timings limiting movement of students on campus remains. 

In addition to these, the decision to close down 24×7 library reading rooms, imposition of a dress code and punishments like rustication and withdrawal of degrees have also not been reversed.