Students at the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) — a premier set of institutions — are protesting the hike in fees. Fees for the PhD programme have tripled from ₹7,000 to ₹24,000 per semester.
According to a note by the students council at IISER, Mohali, this constituted “…an approximate hike of 243% within a year.” Moreover, the hikes were effected even as scholarships were reduced, says the students’ letter to the authorities. “…In the case of the PhD programme, the first revision was a hike of 100%, when the fee was raised from ₹7,000 to ₹14,000 per semester. The second revision, within a period of six months, was that of ₹10,000 where the fee was hiked to ₹24,000 per semester,” the letter says.
In May, a council of representatives from the IISERs, IITs — and chaired by Education Minister Prakash Javadekar — had decided that the fees needed to be hiked 10% every year. “It was noted that fees in IISERS are very low at present…Therefore there was a need to progressively increase the fees,” say the minutes of the meeting.
Amol Amodkar, president, Student’s Representative Council, IISER-Mohali, said the hikes came even as the number of key scholarships — like the INSPIRE awards — were reduced.
“The very purpose of the establishment of IISERs was to promote the science throughout the nation and among every section of our society… We are here because we have a passion for science… but this hike is not only discouraging but making it [research education] out of the reach of a financially weaker section of our society,” the students’ letter added.
Mr. Amodkar told The Hindu that he had discussed the possibility of a fee reduction with the principal but was told that it was unlikely. “This government has cut funds for research agencies like the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. Now they are cutting scholarships funds too,” he said over phone.
Mr. Amodkar and his colleagues were writing to the Union Human Resource Development ministry and would be organising a common protest platform with other IISERS at Pune, Kolkata, Bhopal, Mohali, Thiruvananthapuram, Behrampur and Tirupati.
IISER-Mohali Director Narayanasami Satyamurthy was travelling and unavailable for comment.