On July 23, students at Nirma University, Ahmedabad, wrote a letter petition to the Gujarat high court urging it take note of the university’s decision to demand full fees by August 5.
The decision, students say, doesn’t take into account the “disproportionate impact” the lockdown has had on them over the past few months in the wake of the coronavirus.
The petition cites the Modern Dental Clinic v. the State of Maharashtra case wherein a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court clearly stated that a college cannot charge a fee that goes anywhere beyond the purpose of fulfilling the object of education. In the present case, however, the university is doing exactly the same.
“Owing to the put in maintaining the existing resources and procuring new resources, the cost per student would go up as compared to last year. Therefore, it is not practically possible to reduce the fee,” reads the university, in another notification issued on July 22.
The fee, students say, is only going to benefit the university, not the students, because the college was functional for one and a half months the last semester and therefore, most of the resources – which the fee cover – were left unused by the students and the faculty over the past couple of months. Plus, the university has kept the students in the dark with regard to the bifurcation of the fee being demanded.
On top of that, the university has not provided any explanation towards “the refund or adjustment” of the balance amount which was already paid in the previous semesters, says the petition.
And, now the university is demanding students to pay an extra amount saying that the online teaching will incur more cost and that they will not entertain any “further communication” in this regard.
However, online teaching, as mentioned in the letter petition, is not accessible to all the students due to the socio-economic divide in the country, thereby violating Article 14 of the Indian constitution which guarantees right to equality to all the citizens.
Furthermore, the director general of an educational institution has to consult the board of governors before deciding the fee, according to the rule 34A of academic regulations. However, students say that the last official meeting of the board was conducted on September 28, 2019. “This proves that the university is unwilling to change its fee structure even in these uncertain times,” says the petition letter.
Hence, students have urged the high court to stay the university notification demanding full fee, ask the university to waive off a part of the fee being charged and to refund those who have already made the full payment.
Featured image credit: Nirma University official website