Last night, a student at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Hyderabad was denied admission in the college’s hostel.
The college administration, she said, suddenly revised the hostel fee, leaving many students, especially those from tribal and Dalit communities, without accommodation.
“It is better to drop out of the course instead of putting up with this unmindful decision. I am homeless and I haven’t been able to submit my assignments on the deadline,” she said.
According to a statement released by the college’s Student Action Committee (SAC), hostellers now have to pay Rs 54,650 all at once to avail food and accommodation benefits.
Statement by SAC, TISS, Hyderabad about ongoing situation, where SC and ST students cannot afford to stay in hostels because of abrupt fee revisions, and may have to drop out. pic.twitter.com/PZXJovcvHT
— Pallavi Pratibha (@pallavpratibha) July 6, 2019
Students say that the college sent an e-mail notifying them about the revised fee structure just before the beginning of the current semester.
“Three of my friends were not allowed inside the hostel gates when they came back after vacation. I am glad they have found a flat to stay. But this is so unfair,” said the student who moved out of the hostel last night.
According to the SAC statement, earlier hostellers had to pay Rs 15,000 in three installments. The students who receive government of India post-metric scholarship would pay Rs 5,000 as soon as they received their scholarships. This amount is exclusive of mess charges. However, with this new rule, they have to make an upfront payment of Rs 54,650, which many can’t afford.
The hostel fee structure, students say, has changed multiple times in the past.
In December 2018, the college had released a notification in the newspaper saying that the TISS Hyderabad campus will no longer be residential and that the BA course will be scrapped.
Enraged, students came together to protest the new ruling. Soon after, student collectives from other campuses extended solidarity.
Subsequently, the director, Dr Shalini Bharat, had to give in to their demands saying that “The institute will continue to play the existing role in arranging accommodation for current batches of students for their active participation. For future batches too, similar arrangements through service providers will be made till such time the institute is able to secure its own campus.
However, this year the college hiked the hostel fee yet again, rendering several students homeless. Students have also alleged that the service providers have been mistreating them for the past couple of months.
“Last semester, they [service providers] didn’t allow students to leave the hostel until they paid the amount. When one student decided to leave for home, her luggage was reportedly snatched away,” said Pallavi Pratibha, who recently completed her MA from TISS Hyderabad.
The service provider, one student says, asked her to look for accommodation elsewhere if she couldn’t afford to pay the said amount.
But she says it is not easy to get a flat outside.
“The PGs are very far from the main campus and our classes get over at around 6. It becomes unsafe to travel back home after that. Also, many flat owners don’t rent rooms to unmarried students,” a first-year masters student said.
The SAC statement also states that the administration is indirectly trying to sideline students from SC, ST and OBC categories through such rules.
“One cannot overlook the fact that this is a deliberate attempt by the administration to push out students who cannot afford to study at TISS and stay in its hostel,” said the statement.
Students, however, do agree with the fact that the institution is dealing with massive fund cuts but they also feel that the administration is trying to shrug off its responsibilities by modifying the fee structure.
“We somehow feel that the burden is being shifted to the students from marginalised communities. While the budget for higher education is steadily being cut short, hiking the hostel fee is not the solution,” said Pratibha.
LiveWire wrote an email to the office of student’s affairs (OSA) and the college’s deputy director for their response on the whole matter. While the OSA has promised to release a statement responding to all the allegations in the coming week, the deputy director hasn’t replied as yet.
This story shall be updated with their responses as and when they come.
Meanwhile, the student who had to move to her relative’s place is being asked to come back to college by her seniors. She is still indecisive, but doesn’t want others to go through the same problems.
“I don’t know if I should go back to college because I am tired of writing emails to the administration and talking to the service providers. But I want my ordeal to end soon so that students like me don’t face any difficulty in the future,” she said.