The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) released a statement about the need for financial support for students facing problems during the COVID-19 pandemic and released a set of demands regarding the same.

In a statement dated for 17th April 2020, SFI released a press comment regarding the triangular problems being faced by students during the Coronavirus lockdown and urged the government to provide financial support for the same.

The SFI condemned the BJP-led government’s abrupt announcement of the lockdown without any prior notification for the students to prepare for the situation. They commented that though necessary, the statement for a lockdown came upon every citizen “like a bomb”, and though the lockdown is set for 3rd May, it is likely to extend further.

“The wage labourers and unorganised sector workers who live from hand to mouth are the ones who are facing the worst repercussions of the lockdown. But the brunt of the lockdown is felt by all sections of the population, and by all industries. While a huge portion of the Indian population is facing dire livelihood issues, with the unemployment rate touching a 1/4th of the population, it is futile to expect families to support their children in schools, colleges and universities. many families can’t afford it. If this is left unchecked, it could lead to a great increase in drop-out rates.

Many students are stranded in universities and college in various cities across the country in hostels. They are stranded not only because we were all told to remain where we were and not travel, but also because the lockdown announcement gave no time for students (or anyone) to make preparatory decisions. The government had demanded the students to remain as they are, thereby we demand the government to provide financial assistance to these students. Moreover, students are from disparate economic backgrounds and given the present economic condition, to expect their families to financially support these students is irresponsible”, as stated by SFI’s Delhi State Committee.

SFI has, as a result, released a set of demands for the government to help the students being affected by this pandemic. These include:

  • Provision of a minimum amount of sum to students’ bank accounts
  • Disbursing Fellowships/Scholarships and Grants for Bachelors to PhD
  • Waiving college fee of two months
  • No hostel fee to be charged during the lockdown
  • Government to pay the rent for students staying on rent
  • Necessary steps to be taken to ensure that students’ basic needs are met.

Feature Image Credits: The Sentinel

Shreya Juyal

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NSUI’s offer to bear expenses, expressed in a press release made by NSUI on 19th June, was made on the occasion of the birthday of Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

The student wing of the Congress, the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), has decided on a move to pay the first-year fees of the children of late soldiers and farmers who are taking admission in the University of Delhi. The offer, expressed in a press release made by NSUI on 19th June, was made on the birth anniversary of Congress President, Rahul Gandhi.

“NSUI has made a plan to take an important step to serve the families of the Army on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Congress President Rahul Gandhi Ji. NSUI wants to help and provide services to the children of the family of martyred army, security force [sic]. For this, NSUI wants to pay one year fee for the children of martyrs who are going to take admission in Delhi University this year,” the press release stated.

Calling out the “unfortunate and painful” manner in which the army had been “politicized” by “all the parties” in the “past few days,” the press release said that the NSUI was “standing in every way with the families of those soldiers.”

The press release further said, “The National Student’s Union of India [sic] is also standing with the families of the farmers, who had to commit suicide due to non-payment of loans to the banks. NSUI also wants to pay fees of the children of those farmers.”

The process for the same requires students to register on the email [email protected], following which the National Committee of the NSUI will verify the students’ details.

NSUI National President Neeraj Kundan was quoted by ANI as saying that the party will reimburse the students’ fee in case they had already submitted it to the University, while also adding that the programme “reverberated” Rahul Gandhi’s thinking.

When asked about whether the decision was taken in view of the student polls, Kundan was quoted as saying that the organisation wanted to forward it’s leader, Rahul Gandhi’s ideas instead of just cutting a cake on the occasion of his birthday.

DU Beat tried contacting Saimon Farooqui, the National Secretary of NSUI for a comment, but he was not immediately available.

In our view, while no political move can be separated from the idea of seeking votes or at least, acquiring votes as a byproduct of even a desirable move, political parties often act in subtle ways to expand their reach over the masses. While it is not clear what kind of information will be sought by the NSUI for the programme in question here, a reasonable expectation would be that information such as mobile numbers and other contact details will not be used by the party to reach out to the registrants – such that it does not become a political tool. But voting for a party as per one’s own judgement is, of course, a right available to all.

Feature Image Credits: ANI

Prateek Pankaj

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University of Delhi stands at the risk of getting its funds curtailed due to the non-signing of the Memorandum of Understanding  with the centre and the University Grants Commission.

University of Delhi (DU), once again, stands on the verge of fund cuts. This time around, it is due to the non-signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the centre and the University Grants Commission (UGC).

As reported by the Hindustan Times, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the UGC entered into a pact with varsities laying down several parameters for them, during the last academic session. The MoUs lay down achievement targets and also form the basis of grants allotted to the institutions. The various parameters highlighted in the pact are related to the various targets, such as filling up vacancies, utilisation of resources, output targets in terms of programme of work, and action plan among others.

Rule 229(11) of the General Funancial Rules states, “autonomous organisations as also others with a budgetary support of more than INR five crores per annum, should be required to enter into a MoU with the administrative ministry or department, spelling out clearly performance parameters, output targets in terms of details of programme of work and qualitative improvement in output, along with commensurate input requirements.”

The rule further states, “The output targets, given in measurable units of performance, should form the basis of budgetary support extended to these organisations. The roadmap for improved performance with clear milestones should form part of the MoU.”

DU remains the only significant exception among all the 40 central universities which have signed the MoU with the centre and the UGC. Thus, it stands at a risk of getting its funds curtailed.

A senior official from UGC discussing the issue and the University’s stand on the same said, “Like last year, the tripartite MoUs are being signed again and most varsities have already entered into these pacts. However, DU continues to be an exception. Since, the varsity has not signed it, its funding can be curtailed. However, in a recent meeting the Vice Chancellor has assured that he would try to get the proposal cleared through the varsity’s executive council to pave way for the pact to be signed.”

The risk stands valid  ‘technically’ but the same issue arose last year when DU failed to sign the MoU. But, keeping in view the interest of the students, UGC didn’t take the step ahead in curtailing the funds. But, if the same leniency would be granted to the University this time around too is something which looks doubtful.

If this step of stopping the funds of the University is indeed taken, the students are bound to get affected as the subsidized fees of DU has made it possible for various students from relatively low income families to access the academics and facilities due to their merit. But, curtailing of funds would see a sky high increase in fees, making it almost impossible for such students to sustain in the University.

Finding the clauses and demands of the MoU unacceptable, Saikat Ghosh, a member of the academic council of Delhi University spoke to DU Beat. He said, “DU is entitled to adequate public funding as it is a premier public university imparting higher education to lakhs of students.The MHRD cannot bully DU into accepting unreasonable parameters and targets – that is simply bureaucratic interference of the meanest kind. As a public university, DU should not be browbeaten into accepting the clauses that demand incremental hikes in student fees and self-financing courses. DU has the statutory freedom to decide on its own targets and achievement parameters. It will not sign an MoU that encroaches on this freedom and allows politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists an upper-hand over its students and teachers in decision-making. The MHRD’s threats are condemnable and will continue to be resisted.”

On talking to DU Beat, Abha Dev Habib, a member of Delhi University Teachers’ Association said, “DUTA has been opposing signing of Tripartite MoU. The meeting of the Executive Council where it was placed was stalled. Tripartite MoU aims at restructuring higher education in terms of their funding. Central and State Universities are being arm twisted in signing this MoU, which requires universities to steadily increase student intake and fees. However, there is no commitment to provide grants for additional infrastructre or teaching- non teaching staff to cater to any such increase in number of students. This MoU is a way  of withdrawing public funding and pushing the burden of maintaining or expanding Central and State universities on parents and students.”

The University and the UGC need to come in a common agreement so as to safeguard the interests of the students.

Feature Image Credits: Niharika Dabral for DU Beat.


Shreya Agrawal

[email protected]


In the past three years Delhi University has undergone such radical changes that now one does not bat an eye when the university announces another one of its “reforms”. The news of the hike in fees of almost all the colleges has remained unmentioned. Where the raise in amount is not much in Colleges like Daulat Ram, Miranda House and Hindu, it’s quite considerable in others like SRCC, St Stephen’s, Kirori Mal, LSR and Ramjas.

Yearly fee structure of Shri Ram College of Commerce is a record breaking Rs. 27,000 for third year students and Rs. 26,600 for students of second year. SRCC has always been one of the top paid colleges owing to its air conditioned class rooms but from the last time’s annual fees of Rs. 20,000, a leap of seven thousand is a bit too much. St Stephen’s College, on the other hand, increased its fee by 5 to 7 percent with the effect that a student of Humanities will now have to pay Rs. 22,435 annually as opposed to Rs. 19,925 last year.

The fee hike in Hansraj College is not so drastic in comparison. “There would be a hike but it won’t be more than 10 percent. The hike would be for all the courses except for the Bachelors of Technology (B.Tech) in Electronics,” Hans Raj College principal K.V. Kavatra was quoted saying. A student of B. Com (Hons.) for instance needs to pay Rs. 10,540 instead of last year’s Rs. 9000.

Miranda House, Hindu College and Lady Irvin College have not hiked their fee at all. Where Miranda House charges around Rs. 8000 annually, Hindu still remains one of the most affordable colleges with a fee structure ranging from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 7000. Sri Venkateswara College in South Campus is comparatively cheaper, when compared to LSR and JMC, and a student of Political Science and B. Com (Hons.) has to pay just Rs. 6505 yearly.  With a fee structure of Rs. 5000, Daulat Ram College is one of the most inexpensive colleges of Delhi University.

Reportedly, the university has nothing to do with the fee structure and the hike. The decision lies entirely with the colleges. Quite naturally, the students of colleges like SRCC are not happy. “We don’t have teacher assigned for some of the very basic subjects! There are ad-hoc teachers but we are not satisfied with any of them and we have to pay extra for that?!” said a second year student.

Image courtesy: www.frontiertreksindia.com

Disputes abound over proposed Fee Hike

The College Governing Body of St. Stephen’s College ratified the recommendations of the College Finance Committee which suggested a 40%- 57% increase in the fees, with effect from the current academic session, 2009-10. This move by the governing body has met with stiff resistance from several students, who consider the steep hike highly unwarranted.

The students have chosen to make a visible protest against the hike in fees by sporting black arm bands. A Third year student of the college says, “The magnitude of the fee hike is the problem here. A 10-15% increase in the fees would have been reasonable, but a 50% fee hike is outrageous. This may not affect the majority of the students, but we also need to keep in mind the people who will be seriously affected. We have to consider the students who will not be able to pay the raised fees and so we must protest against this unfair step.”

However, some teachers choose to take a different stand on the issue. Mr. Shankaran, a professor in the college says, “Several colleges like Khalsa College and Sri Vivekananda College have external funding from their respective affiliated institutions. However, the church which we are affiliated to, the Church of North India, does not provide us with funds. We are running a huge deficit and the situation is so bad, that we do not have enough funds to maintain day-to-day activities. We need to increase the fee so that the college can run smoothly and the infrastructure of the college can be maintained.”

Several representatives of students have had meetings with the bursar and the principal in order to clarify the reasons behind the fee hike and request them to reduce the amount incremented. The Bursar, Mr. Raghunathan, has therefore circulated a written explanation among the students giving reasons as to why the fee hike is justified.

The circular says that the increase in the fee is required simply because over the years costs have gone up while the fee has remained unchanged. The circular cites the example of the increasing price of books for the library, thus necessitating an increase in the library fee. Costs of scientific equipment too have seen a rise, resulting in a hike in the ‘Science Facility fee’. The ‘Student Aid Fund’ to help needy students has also been augmented while a ‘Development fund’ has been set up to help in the acquisition of more lecture and tutorial rooms and better laboratory facilities. The ‘Residence Fund’ of the college which is used to pay for salaries of the garden staff, security staff and mess staff and which is not covered by the UGC grant is also suffering a deficit which needs to be addressed. Moreover, the college has to pay the arrears of salary according to the VI th Pay Commission’s recommendations.

All this results in the minimum anticipated deficit to be over Rs 45 Lakhs and the situation is only expected to worsen during the course of this academic session. Says the bursar, “If the University undergraduate tuition fee is raised to Rs 100 a month, you can either choose to look upon it as a more reasonable amount than the original laughably small sum of Rs 15 per month, or you can choose to see it as more than a 600% fee hike. So what one needs to think of is the resulting total, rather than the amount by which the fee has been increased.”

Some students agree with the bursar. A Second year student says, “I don’t mind the increase in the fee since DU fees are in any case ridiculously low and moreover most kids are easily capable of paying the new fee, even if it means making a tiny compromise in the shopping department.”