IIT Bombay Fee Hike – Students on Hunger Strike, Management Defends Decision

New Delhi, 8 August 2022– The students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay are at loggerheads with the institution against a recent IIT Bombay fee hike – which according to the protesting students – is unjustified, especially after the pandemic. One of the most prestigious institutions for engineering in India, IIT Bombay located in Mumbai’s Powai area, announced the fee hike for existing Master’s and PhD courses in July 2022. 

Following the move, hundreds of students started protesting against it calling it “unfair” and an additional “financial burden” on them. Though the management decided to provide some relief through a small fee reduction, the students did not find the relief to be enough and have decided to continue their relay hunger strike.

IIT Bombay Fee Hike – Why are Students Protesting?

IIT Bombay (IIT-B) is one of the premier higher educational institutions in India. In the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) 2022, IIT-B secured the third position in the ‘Overall’ and ‘Engineering’ category and 11th in the Management category. It stood 4th in the new ‘Research’ category of the NIRF.

Under a yearly fee hike policy, IIT- B made a revision to its fee structure for postgraduate and Ph.D. courses. As per a circular posted on the college website on 19 July 2022, both the course fee structures have undergone a fee hike of around 35% from the autumn semester onwards. With the announcement, the tuition fees for new PhD students were hiked from Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000. In the case of new MTech students, tuition fees rose from Rs 5,000 per semester (after a partial tuition fee waiver) to Rs 30,000 per semester. 

For existing students, the fee was increased under all the heads except the tuition fees. This includes hostel fee, registration fee, medical fee, examination, electricity and water charges, hostel and mess establishment charge, student accident insurance fund, student benevolent fee, and gymkhana fee among others. These expenses take the total fee hike from Rs 16,500 to Rs 23,950 for the current scholars.

However, this caught the students off guard who termed the management’s decision as unacceptable. Among others, a major point of contention was the hike in hostel fees – from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,700.

A total of 1000 students wrote a letter to the institute on 21 July, demanding an immediate rollback of the fee hike calling it 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 expressed their discontent over the lack of transparency in the process as none of the student representatives were consulted before the hike.

The student protestors also formed a collective named ‘IIT Bombay Students Against Fee Hike’ and further demanded an extension in the deadline for the fee payment, an increase in the fellowships for the research scholars, and transparency in the expenses that occurred out of the fees paid by the students. The students warned to go on a hunger strike from 5 August onwards if their demands are not met by the institution. Seeing that the management was not inclined to rollback the decision, the students have now begun protesting through a hunger strike. 

IIT Bombay Fee Hike – Management Defends the Move

Defending the hike, the IIT Bombay management has called it a routine revision. As per an official statement released by the varsity, the hikes were on the card for a long time as the board of governors had agreed for it three years ago, but it was put on hold due to the pandemic.

The statement also read – “Given the sharp increase in students, we need to build more hostels and academic buildings. The hostel fee increase is essential to cover actual expenses, allowing our other sources of income to be used to provide better academic facilities.”

Justifying the hike, IIT Bombay Director – Subhasis Chaudhuri – noted that the fee  is a medium to generate revenue and the only way to repay loans IIT-B gets from the government’s higher education funding agency. 

He also mentioned that most students belonging to “concessional” groups receive stipends from the university, which significantly reduces their fees anyway. For example, at the post-graduate level, many students get around Rs 12,000 per month as a stipend for teaching and research assistantship.

IIT Bombay Fee Hike – A Small Sign of Relief?

The university, which seemed to be adamant initially, gave a small relief to the students on 6 August by cutting Rs 1,800 from the Semester Mess Advance (SMA) component of the fee structure. In an official statement, the university also agreed to add four members from the elected student body as permanent invitees to the fee committee.

However, the students remained undeterred and have decided to continue with a relay hunger strike, while demanding a complete rollback of the fee hike. A student noted that the SMA component of the fee structure included the hostel amenities fee. However, as per the new fee structure, the hostel amenities fee was being charged under the semester fee but it was never removed from the SMA, making it double collection. The student already pointed out the error during the open house on July 26, following which the administration rectified its mistake. 

The students now await a response from the management about the IIT Bombay fee hike issue. Until the fee is rolled back, they have decided to continue with the hunger strike. 

FAQs

Why are students protesting at IIT Bombay?

The students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay are at loggerheads with the institution against a recent fee hike for existing Master’s and Ph.D. courses, announced earlier in July 2022.

How much has the fee hiked at IIT Bombay?

As per a yearly fee hike policy, IIT- B made a revision to its fee structure for the postgraduate and Ph.D. courses. As per a circular posted on the college website on 19 July 2022, both the course fee structures have undergone a fee hike of around 35% from the autumn semester onwards. With the announcement, the tuition fees for new PhD students were hiked from Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000. For new MTech students, tuition fees rose from Rs 5,000 per semester to Rs 30,000 per semester. For existing students, the fee was increased under all the heads except the tuition fees. This includes hostel fee, registration fee, medical fee, examination, electricity and water charges, hostel and mess establishment charge, student accident insurance fund, student benevolent fee, and gymkhana fee among others. These expenses take the total fee hike from Rs 16,500 to Rs 23,950 for the current scholars.

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