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DU Decides to Hike Development Fund Charges for Students

In view of the reduction in capital grants by the UGC, DU came up with a proposal to increase the annual university development fee charged from students. While some members objected to the fee hike amidst the pandemic, the proposal has been approved by the Executive Council.

The University of Delhi has resolved to increase the University Development Fund (UDF) charged to students due to the reduction in capital grants by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

This recommendation was made by an 11-member committee that has been appointed by the varsity. The committee comprising the then Pro-Vice-Chancellor P.C. Joshi and Registrar Vikas Gupta had been tasked with considering the allocation of funds for activities like construction of new buildings and procurement of laboratory equipment.

At present, the university is receiving only Rs 600 per student per year as University Development Fund contribution which was implemented in the academic year 2012-2013. Keeping in view the fund requirement, as well as government mandate for self-sufficiency and reduction of capital grants by UGC as well for the creation of ICT (information and communications) enabled infrastructure, the UDF amount should be revised to Rs 900 per student per year.

Statements by the committee.

The panel noted that the UGC has not released sufficient capital grants to the University for lab equipment or other equipment for the last three to four years. Terming the allocation of Rs 1.25 crore in the current financial year by the UGC as a “very small amount”, the committee said that the varsity is not able to purchase even a piece of single laboratory equipment. After exhausting all available resources, it approved the allocation of an amount of Rs 52 crore for the purchase/replacement of laboratory equipment of different departments. 

The Executive Council of the university had accepted the committee’s proposal of an increase by Rs 300 in the UDF amount during its meeting held on December 17. However, a few members dissented to this move.

Earlier this development fund, as collected from students, was treated by the university as an emergency fund. As in every household, some amount of money is never touched and kept for difficult times, this UDF has been like this. Now, forcing the university to draw from UDF for infrastructure and development will make the things difficult for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes and economically weaker section students.

Seema Das, Executive Council member.

Abha Dev Habib, Secretary of the Democratic Teachers’ Front, said, “At this point, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, no institution is increasing fees but increasing fees, even if it’s minimal, is not the right thing. The university is planning to start new courses and new departments. From where will the funds be generated for this?

On the other hand, Rajesh Jha, a Political Science professor, and former Executive Council member said, “This will force a steep hike in student fees. The fee hike is for a small amount but the university is seeing how this will impact students. The committee has noted that there is a shortage of grants from the UGC“. Jha further added that this move is like the university “testing waters” for implementing a fee hike.

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Namrata Kalita

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