The Coordination of Science and Technology Institutes’ Student Associations (COSTISA) expresses its solidarity with the ongoing students’ movement against the fees hike in IIT Bombay. Barely a year after introducing a two-fold hike in tuition fees for UGs, the institute has made a unilateral decision to increase the fees for all students. There has been, a 300 % hike in hostel rent, 167 % hike in gymkhana fees, 100 % hike in examination, registration and medical fees, and between 30% and 50% increase in other charges. Moreover, an undeclared component of the increase in fees is the Mess overdue that students will have to pay at end of next semester. Effectively, the total increase in fees in coming semester for all students will be anywhere between Rs. 8600 to Rs. 11200.
After a day of massive Rally and sit-in protest the Director was compelled to come and talk to the students on this issue on June 22nd . It was promised that the administration will sit for negotiation with a representative body from the protesting students soon. However, even after waiting for more than a week the administration did not act on their words which compelled the students to intensify their protest. The students went for a rally and started an indefinite relay hunger strike on 3rd July. The administration’s instructed the Professors to ask their students to step back from the protest, however, it could not effect the protest and the students participated in good numbers. After two days of hunger strike the administration was compelled to announce that they will meet for negotiation on 10th July. The protest was temporarily suspended with the call to intensify it further if no favorable resolution is made in the meeting with the administration.
What is happening in IIT Bombay should be seen in connection with the policy of commercialization and privatization of the entire education system in the country. Education is being treated as any other good or service bought and sold in the market and not as a basic need of the society which the state should ensure for the citizens. Students are being seen as consumers. Only those who can afford high cost education or afford to bear the burden of heavy loans can make it to higher education. This is clear even in the way IITB administration has termed hike as “user charges”. The National Education Policy, 2016 strongly recommends financial autonomy for state funded higher education institutions in line with WTO-GATS agreement. Thus, MHRD is also pushing for financial autonomy and raising fees in all IITs.
COSTISA opposes the policy of reducing public funding in education and pushing for privatization. This tendency victimizes the dreams and aspirations of the majority of our population who are socially and economically underprivileged. It will also deteriorate the state of science and technology in this country in long run. We are very much heartened to see students in various campuses carrying out movements against commercialization and privatization of education. Recently such movements were seen in Panjab University and IIT Kharagpur. We appeal all the S&T institutes especially IITs to come forward and support the movement in IIT Bombay. And we think that the best way to support their movement is to organize and initiate movements against privatization of education in our respective campuses. We also feel that all the S&T institutes should prepare to coordinate among themselves and go for a united nationwide movement against the attack on education by the government.
The Coordination of Science and Technology Institutes’ Student Associations (COSTISA)
Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle, IIT Madras
Ambedkar-Periyar-Phule Study Circle, IIT Bombay
Students for Change, IIT BHU
Ambedkar Bhagat Singh Study Circle, IIT Kharagpur