End to stir in sight

Basheer to convene meeting of student representatives

Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A settlement of the students' strike over fees in self-financing colleges is in sight with the Government agreeing to extend the fee structure in Government colleges to merit seats in the cooperative sector also.

A consensus in this respect was arrived at the all-party meeting convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy here on Tuesday.

Education Minister E. T. Mohammed Basheer told presspersons after the meeting that all colleges run by institutions owned by the Government and the Cooperative Academy for Professional Education would only charge fees on par with that in Government colleges from students admitted under the merit quota. The decision would also apply to medical colleges at Pariyaram and Kochi. However, it did not cover self-financing colleges under the universities, which were autonomous bodies.

The Minister said a meeting of the representatives of student unions would be convened immediately to arrive at a formal settlement. There would not be problems in the withdrawal of police cases against students except where damage to public property is involved.

Mr. Basheer also announced that discussions would be held with representatives of managements of private self-financing colleges within two days to arrive at a consensus on the fee structure. All parties would cooperate in pressing the Centre to include the Bill passed by the Assembly on self-financing colleges in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.

Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan said that the opposition parties had urged the Government to adopt a strong attitude towards private managements who did not keep their promise that only fees at Government rates would be charged for merit seats.

Though the managements had successfully fought legal battles against the Government, the latter did not take a strong stand. The Government should have told the managements that it would not protect them against agitations over the fee structure.

The opposition parties had wanted the Government to set an example by bringing down the fees for merit quota in self-financing colleges controlled by the Government. It had agreed to do so. So, they would be advising the student unions to tone down their agitation so as to create an atmosphere conducive for talks, the Opposition Leader said.

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