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CU fee-hike move runs into protest wall

Calcutta University wants to increase the students’ registration fee after 12 years but is facing stiff opposition from student unions.

The plan is to increase the fee from Rs 100 to Rs 500 from the current academic session starting this month. The fee was last increased in 2002.

The SFI and the DSO have started movements protesting the proposed hike. Trinamul Chhatra Parishad has not declared its stand but students backed by it have held protests on the issue at several colleges.

The university had on June 19 announced its proposal to increase the registration fee. “The proposal will be placed at the syndicate meeting on Wednesday. A final decision will be taken based on what the syndicate decides,” vice-chancellor Suranjan Das said.

A senior CU official, however, said there was hardly any chance of the proposal being withdrawn. “The fee hike is a necessity in the current circumstances. Our expenditure is jumping by the year.”

CU, being a state-funded university, has to depend entirely on funds from the state government. “The bulk of the funds is spent on paying salaries and we are left with a meagre amount for infrastructure development and quality enhancement,” the official said.

If the hike comes into effect, CU will earn an additional Rs 8 lakh a year.

Many teachers are surprised at the students’ opposition as the registration fee has to be paid only once.

According to a teacher, most students take private tuitions. Teachers now charge between Rs 2,500 and 3,000 a month from an honours student for tuition. Twelve years ago, the rate varied between Rs 700 and Rs 1,200.

“If students can pay Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,000 every month for private tuition, why can’t they afford Rs 500 as registration fee,” said a teacher.

According to CU rules, however, private tuition is illegal.

The prices of almost every commodity has risen over the past 12 years. “The proposed fee hike is justified because a pair of eggs which now cost between Rs 12 and 14 were available at Rs 3.50 in 2002. A kilo of rice which costs Rs 45 was available at Rs 20 around 10 years ago,” the teacher pointed out.

A CU official said students were opposed to the proposed hike because they felt it would affect those from economically weaker sections. The university, he added, would offer a fee waiver for poor students producing BPL cards.

Madhuja Sen Roy, SFI state president, said they would not allow the authorities to introduce the hike. “We have handed over a memorandum to the higher education minister. Since the authorities have ignored our demand, we will soon start an indefinite movement.”

Tamaghna Ghosh, state TMCP general secretary, said the organisation would announce its stand after a meeting of senior leaders, likely to be held in a day or two.