Friday, July 23, 2010

IARI proposes 900 pc fee hike, amidst the students protest

Students of the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi seem to be in utter shock. The institute, which has not seen a fee hike since 1998, now proposes to change the fee structure for research and postgraduate students by 900 per cent (almost 12 times) hike which is no where comparable to the fees of even the other premier technical institutions, like IITs, NITs etc. Over that students staged a silent protest at the Pusa campus for the second day on Thursday to voice their opposition to the revision in the fee structure for MSc and PhD courses. IARI is one of the premier research institute among the four deemed universities of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the fee revision has been done only for the deemed institutes.
The fees which were about Rs.6,200 per annum, inclusive of hostel, electricity and tuition fees, have steeply gone up to Rs.72,000. While Rs.40, 000 is tuition fees, students will have to annually shell out Rs.16, 000 for hostel accommodation and Rs.6,000 for electricity. The revised fee structure was reportedly recommended at a meeting of the Co-ordination Committee for ICAR Deemed Universities on March 9. With this hike IARI will become the costliest Institute to study the farm sciences after PAU, Ludhiana and TNAU, Coimbatore. IARI provides fellowships of Rs 10,500 for Doctorate / PhD Scholars and Rs 8,640 for the MSc Students, inclusive of all the living and research expenses. The fee hike will be implemented from the new academic session beginning August 8.
Though the administration claims the hike is still under consideration, the students’ body representatives, who organised a silent protest and boycotted classes on Thursday, claim the new fee structure has been approved and implemented. Protesting in front of the director’s office, the postgraduate and research students said their annual fees has been increased from Rs 7,200 to over Rs 62,000. “The director communicated the decision of the new fee structure to us. We even saw the official communication which stated the fee for postgraduate students as Rs 62,000 and research students as Rs 72,000 per annum,” President of Post Graduate School Students Union (PGSSU), IARI, Mr. Sandeep Kumar said.
The students claimed while the fee structure at other Deemed University, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) and Central Institute of Fishery Education (CIFE) has also been revised, their hikes are far more reasonable.
A letter written to Union Minister of Agriculture by the All India Federation of Agricultural Associations states: “The quantum of fees proposed to be charged is almost double the fees charged by the IITs. It appears that the enhancement of fees has been done taking into consideration the fees being charged by the private engineering and management institutions.” The letter goes on to say that job opportunities and salaries for engineering and management students are far more and that no other institutions and universities offering courses in agricultural sciences had raised their fees. Many students who are from poor and rural backgrounds too would be impacted. The increase might grant leverage to “other institutions and universities throughout the country to increase the fees”.
The students have threatened to intensify protests if the hike is not “rationalised”. “We registered our protest in a silent manner. Tomorrow, we will meet the director-general and Agriculture ministry officials,” said Kumar.
PG School Dean and Joint Director, Education, H S Gaur countered that the revised fee structure has been sent back to the government for reconsideration. “The fee at IARI has not been hiked since 1998, though fellowships and other student benefits were revised. The decision to revise the fee has been taken by a council headed by the Union Agriculture Secretary. We have no say in the matter, but we will initiate talks with the officials concerned as well as with the students,” said Gaur.

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