Dear Mr Kumar Mangalam Birla,
We are students currently studying at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani. We are students that come from humble backgrounds, and who worked hard, intensively, in hopes of going to the most prestigious institution of the country. Our parents made sure that all their sweat and blood went into helping us become successful engineers so that they could look at us proudly. Some of us couldn’t afford the hefty tuition fees that coaching classes took from us, but still, our parents made sure that our concentration remained on our studies while they relentlessly worked extra hours to help finance our studies. Despite the odds, all of us made it to BITS in the hope of getting a quality and affordable education.
Sadly, the state of affairs has come to a point when 2,300 people have gathered in the Pilani campus’s ‘world class auditorium’ to protest the recent fee hike. A semester’s fee has gone from Rs 40,000 back in 2010 to Rs 1,59,000 for the incoming batch of 2018. As students come together to fight for their right to ask the right question of the right people, the administration needs to introspect on the need and logic for such a change.
The name Birla has signified huge capital resources and affordable education for the mass populace for a long time now. Sadly the latter is no longer true.
What are the consequences of this fee hike?
- Parents of potential students will get disinterested in even applying for the BITSAT, let alone securing admission at the institute. Eventually leading to meritorious students from humble background applying to the new IITs and NITs.
- A rise in debt for students and dropping out as already-enrolled students exhaust their loans to keep up with the increased fee.
- Students reviewing their decision to pursue higher-education, especially in the field of research where the return on investment (RoI) is a timely affair.
- Added financial stress for parents of students who have already invested a lot of resources and money into their child’s education.
When we confronted the director of the campus to discuss students’ loan concerns, the student representatives asked the gathered crowd to raise their hands if they had taken loans to attend BITS Pilani, and an entire sea of hands rose up. In an institute where merit is given preference over reservation, basic financial conditions are an evaluative parameter that the authorities should concern themselves with. We were told that ‘Your parents get it (reasons behind fee hike).’ All our questions were answered with a ready-made response, ‘Refer to statistics.’
Sir, the world is divided into those who want to be something and those who want to do something. BITS is fortunate to have students who aspire to do something, and in order to do so, they need to go through four years of quality education. That cannot happen if the current fee hike trend continues.
BITS is considered one of India’s premium institutions mainly because of its students, its alumni and their achievements, not its administration. We are not demanding to see a break-up of the new fee’s expenses or justification for the hike. We are here to say that, we cannot pay the fees that we are being asked to pay. We are ready to choose affordability over quality because if we cannot sustain ourselves, there is no point of a degree with the BITS Pilani’s registrar’s stamp on it. Despite its repeated emphasis on quality education, if BITS cannot contain the internal dissidence of students who negate the university’s claims, the state of affairs is at a sad low. This is clearly a departure from the vision the institute was founded with.
All of these protests come in the midst of our comprehensive examinations, and if we are ready to assemble in the auditorium at these odd hours, our actions very well speak for themselves. If we were to remain silent, we would be guilty of complicity. We will not simply bandage the wounds cause by the wheels of such injustice, we will drive a spoke into the wheel itself.
The director hasn’t been receptive to our demands and has walked off. We, the student community of BITS Pilani, humbly request you to confer with the BITS administration and help us regarding this matter. We strongly express this cause of ours and want immediate action on the same.
the BITS student community