Students are hesitant to come out in the open against the recent fee hike, as fear of rustication hangs over their heads

While students of Osmania University and their neighbours in Eflu boycott classes for causes beyond their realm, those from National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) are forced to speak in hushed tones about issues directly affecting them.

Students from NIFT, participating in the nationwide strike against the recent fee hike, cannot come out in the open, as fear of rustication hangs over their heads. Instead, they hang out in groups and rarely shout slogans.

They speak to the media, but they refuse to be quoted and reduce their voices to a whisper when a teacher passes by. In fact, the administration did not allow the media into the campus on Monday, the first day of the strike.

“Formation of students’ groups and committees is forbidden here. Anybody trying to gather voices will be branded as ‘instigator’ and threatened with rustication. Let alone grouping, we cannot even stand face-to-face with the Director. So, we do not have any spokesperson even when we are protesting,” says a student pleading anonymity.

Fee for the four-year undergraduate courses has been hiked from Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 55,000 a semester across all the 15 NIFT campuses in the country. In addition, Rs. 8,000 a year will be charged under the heads of library fee, mediclaim and exam fee, taking the sum up to Rs. 1.18 lakh a year. Further, the prospectus notified that there would be a minimum fee hike of 10 per cent every year.

“The Director-General said the fee is being hiked for infrastructural improvements. We are already in the final year, of which the last six months will be spent in internship. We will not profit from whatever improvements they are planning. Why should we be burdened then?” asks a final year student.

Students also claim that the pay packages offered during placements have been very poor for the past two years, with the best bargains hovering around Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 4 lakh per annum. Most graduates are being paid a pittance of Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 9,000 a month, they said.

“With this kind of remuneration, we cannot even pay back our education loans. And think of the fee hike now,” a student says, while another jokingly says he will start a ‘dhabha’ to survive.

Students attribute the poor pay to the increasing number of graduating students per year. Only the best survive in the industry, and the best are a minuscule percentage, they say. Director of the Hyderabad campus N.J. Rajaram was unavailable for comments.

More In: Hyderabad