Around 100 students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay staged a spontaneous sit-in protest at its main building Tuesday after they were allegedly not allowed to meet the director to submit an open letter against a hike in fees for postgraduate and PhD courses. The sit-in protest lasted for around an hour before a few of the authorities came to receive the letter and assured the students that they would look into the demands.
According to information provided by students at the premier technology institute in Mumbai’s Powai area, the fees for both M Tech and PhD courses increased by 45 per cent in the recently declared fee circular for the autumn semester.
“The break-up of fee structure for existing master’s and PhD students shows significant increase under all the heads, except the tuition fees. This includes hostel fees, registration fees, medical fees, examination fees, electricity and water charges, hostel and mess establishment charges, student accident insurance fund, student benevolent fee and gymkhana fees among others, taking the total fees from Rs 16,500 to Rs 23,950,” said a student. The new admissions are the worst hit, the student added. “Their fee hike is huge with an exorbitant jump in tuition fees too. For PhD, the tuition fee for new batches has been increased to Rs 5,000 from Rs 2,500. Whereas for master’s students, it has been increased to Rs 25,000 from Rs 2,500,” said the student. The open letter submitted to the administration, which is signed by around 1,000 students, demands a complete rollback of the fee hike. It also highlights that the hike puts an additional financial burden on the students who are already suffering from the effects of inflation and the aftereffects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The students also mentioned discontent in the manner in which the fee hike was introduced as their representatives were allegedly not consulted. The students formulated a collective named ‘IIT Bombay Students Against Fee Hike’ to coordinate the protest. The other demands put forth by the collective are an extension in the deadline for the fee payment, an increase in the fellowships for research scholars and transparency in the expenses incurred out of the fees paid by the students. The collective appealed to the students not to pay the fees until a decision is reached regarding the rollback of the fee hike.