Students of the College of Art (COA) Saturday protested outside the Chief Minister’s residence at noon Saturday against the Delhi Cabinet’s decision to disaffiliate the college from Delhi University (DU) and merge it with Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD).
The decision was taken in March last year. Students have been protesting against the decision, which has got a nod from the Lieutenant-Governor, even as DU is yet to take a decision to disaffiliate COA. An online petition against it was also floated.
“The Delhi cabinet has…approved the merger of Delhi University’s College of Arts, functioning under the Directorate of Training and Technical Education, and Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management (DIHRM) affiliated with GGSIP University functioning under Directorate of Higher Education. Together they will now be part of Dr B.R Ambedkar University,” the Delhi government had then said in a statement. On Saturday, several students of COA along with Left student organisations like Students’ Federation of India, All India Students’ Association and Krantikari Yuva Sangathan protested outside the Chief Minister’s residence and submitted a memorandum there.
Primarily the students’ big worry is that once affiliated to AUD, education will become more expensive and fees will increase substantially.
This, students say will be a discriminatory act for students coming from lower socio-economic strata, and will exclude artists from disadvantaged backgrounds.
They’ve also said the college already had a fund crunch and it was not clear whether the issue would resolve or exacerbate after the merger.
In the memorandum, they said, “The process of the merger itself is extremely undemocratic, a process that was completely lacking in transparency and any consultation with students. The legacy of a great college is being jeopardised in your state versus Centre political games.”
“Learning fine arts in India still remains an expensive affair, and COA is one of the few colleges with comparably low fees. We do not want COA falling prey to the AUD fee structure, which as it stands is 3-4 times higher than COAs existing fees,” they added. Aastha Sanghi, a second-year student of Applied Arts, also said other issues in the college needed to be addressed, including the reservation system which was “extremely exclusionary to tribal students”. She said the college also required better facilities, faculty, subsidised education, and placements.