The steep fee hike in Pondicherry University and the students’ protests against it has been in the news for the past couple of days. Expressing solidarity with the protests, college students across Kerala air their views on the issue, both online and offline.
All hell broke loose when the university decided to revise the fee structure for certain courses. Only recently had it hiked the fee for MBA course by 125 per cent and MCA, by 225 per cent. In protest against the steep fee hike and in support of students from economically backward sections and SC/ST categories, six students’ organisations, along with the Pondicherry University Students Council, are protesting the move, raising the slogan ‘Affordable, Accessible, Equal Education for All’. If their demands are not met, the students will launch a strike.
Another demand put forth by the JAC is to allocate university hostel rooms to the SC/ST students residing in the Adi-Dravida hostel. The current system affects the students’ after-class activities and college life, they claim. The JAC organised a students’ gathering — PONLAIT — on the campus on the 25th of March to decide on the future course of action. The council has also decided to boycott classes as well as exams on March 26.
“We have launched the protest to ensure that students belonging to SC/ST categories have the opportunity to get better education at reasonable fees. We also demand that 25 per cent of seats be reserved for the students from Pondicherry,” says SFI unit secretary Abhijeet Sudhakaran. ASA, APSF, NSUI and SIO are the other students’ organisations which are parts of the council. They jointly decided not to invite the ABVP to the committee.
Several colleges and students from other states have come in support of the students of Pondicherry University on social media and other platforms. Subin S., a degree student from MG University, says, “This fee hike will affect students from middle-class families, and it will become a burden for their parents, too.”
Sanu, a student of St. Ann’s college, Angamaly, termed it a deliberate attempt to take public education away from the reach of the marginalised sections. Students everywhere have extended support to the JAC. A similar action council was formed in September last year following which an indefinite strike was launched. The two-day agitation was called off after the varsity Vice-Chancellor agreed to all their demands including authorising of peacefully-organised protests on the campus.
The combined students’ union has decided to continue with the agitation until the fee hike is revoked. They are also demanding hostel facility for SC/ST students from Pondicherry and re-implementation of external evaluation in semester exams....