The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cash-starved varsity eyes hostel fee hike

After raising tuition and other fees of students to tide over its financial crisis, arising out of a slash in government grants, Calcutta University (CU) is contemplating a steep hike in hostel fees, too. University officials, however, said a comprehensive scheme for revamping hostel facilities will be implemented before the fees are raised.

Students availing of accommodation in the 18 CU-run hostels are charged nominal sums. They pay Rs 35 per month per head for space in a dormitory-style, multiple-bed room. For single-room accommodation, the rent is Rs 40 per month.

In addition, they are charged Rs 35 per month for electricity and Rs 12 per month for utensils. Officials admitted that CU, alarmed over the slash in grants, had recently set up a high-power committee to examine ways to cut costs at its 18 hostels.

The government is believed to have sent CU a directive, asking it to devise ways to minimise its expenses at the hostels and the auditorium. The committee, according to university officials, will meet on February 27 to finalise the new hostel fees.

Suranjan Das, pro vice-chancellor (academic) and head of the hostel fee committee, admitted: “The government already gives us a large subsidy for running the hostels, which is why students can avail of accommodation at extremely nominal rates.”

But now that the government is unable to increase its grants, a hike in hostel charges was “unavoidable”, he said. Proper measures, however, will be taken to ensure that the new fees are within the reach of students, since most of them come from middle-class families, Das said.

The 18 hostels of the university can together accommodate nearly 1,450 students. The hostels are all located in Calcutta.

Asit Baran Rudrapal, secretary, CU board of residents, said the university hostels had been charging extremely low fees from boarders for the past several decades.

The last rent revision had been in July 2002, prior to which boarders would pay only Rs 11 per month, said Rudrapal.

Students, however, alleged the fee hike, if implemented, would be “unfair”, as most of the hostels did not have the minimum facilities. They said they have met Das and submitted a deputation, declaring that they would accept the raised fees only after the facilities were improved.

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