The outbreak of coronavirus and subsequent lockdown adversely affected almost all the sectors across the country. That also meant that people’s earning power has diminished due to the curtailment of industrial and productive activities.
In such a situation it is quite understandable that for many people anything or services which before the coronavirus pandemic was affordable, has now become difficult to pay for.
That includes the hefty fees that educational institutes are continuously raising in recent times.
Despite UGC and AICTE recommendations against raising the fees during the crisis period brought about by coronavirus pandemic, some education institutes are not only raising the fees but are also setting unrealistic deadlines for the submission.
NIFT demands lakhs in fees for each semester
After medical and engineering colleges in Punjab and Karnataka raised fees for the courses, now the premier institute of fashion technology, the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), has asked its students, to pay the raised fees by September 7, 2020.
While the college has allowed students to pay the late fee by 19 February 2021 with a fine of Rs 100 per day, their name would be struck out if they fail to pay the fee by 19 February. But with more than a lakh rupees fee for one semester, many students and their parents are finding it very difficult to pay the fees.
Students write to Smriti Irani
According to a report in the Wire, students from several of the 16 NIFT’s centres across the country have written to the minister of textiles Smriti Irani and the director of NIFT requesting their high fees for each semester be reduced owning to the crisis caused by the coronavirus.
The students in their application requested the Ministry of Textiles, under which NIFT functions, to reduce the fees which run in lakhs for each semester as their parents are not able to pay full fees. Many students laid bare the difficulties their parents are facing in arranging the high fees for them.
Wire reported one NIFT student Vanishka (whose name was changed on the request), writing about the issue on Twitter:
“Asking for the full fee is not acceptable. We are not using any facility. Tuition fee is fine but, the library and other fees are not valid. Our parents already have too much pressure because of the pandemic. Parents have to use their savings to fulfil routine expenses.
Their requests, however, haven’t received any response from the institute or the Ministry.
Students enrolled in the various campuses of NIFT also said that ever since the lockdown started in March they have been attending online classes and are not able to utilise facilities provided by the college in their respective campuses, so why the college is charging them the fees for the facilities they are not using.
Students claimed that colleges are charging them fees for wifi, medical, library, electricity, etc which they are not using as they all are at home.
On the contrary, students say their expenditures have spiked manifold due to increased consumption of internet data pack, electricity, etc for attending classes and assignments from homes.
NIFT social media policy
While the NIFT has not given any response to students’ request to reduce the fees, it has issued a social media policy for them. According to the policy that was released in June 2020, all the students are instructed to not share any information that could be perceived going against the college, on social media. Doing so can be adversely used against the students.
“Any content maligning NIFT, its policies and employees will be viewed adversely inviting disciplinary action and inter alia, penalties, debarment from sitting the examination, campus placements etc” the NIFT notice on social media etiquette reads.
It further says, “Think twice about how you post content if you’re feeling angry about something and consider the effect that this might have on the situation.”
This, however, hasn’t prevented students from taking their grievances to Twitter where they expressed their gripe in the following manner:
“People are scared to raise their voice but enough is enough. If our parents have to suffer and take loans to give our fees and have to be in a bad situation because of us to us degree ka hum kya kare. (‘Then what should we do with such a degree?’) And not just me, many of my classmates are suffering a lot,” the Wire quoted another NIFT student Simranjeet Kaur writing on Twitter.