The protests by the students of Shri Guru Ram Rai (SGRR) Institute of Medical and Health Sciences entered the third day on March 29. The students have been protesting day and night against what could be called an absurd fee hike of almost 400%.
The private medical colleges in Uttarakhand have planned the massive fee hike following the announcement by the Uttarakhand government which gives them the freedom to set up fees. SGRR college went ahead and issued a formal notice regarding the hike without this order getting approval in the court.
The aggrieved students have been even joined by few parents in the protests.
About 400% fee hike
In the notice issued by SGRR college, the students, who were paying an amount of Rs. 4 lakh per annum, are being asked to pay Rs. 19.76 lakh per annum now.
The Logical Indian spoke to few of the protesting students, one of the students explains, “We have been protesting since last two days, this is the third day. We have been sitting at the college gate, protesting against the unjust fee hike. We took admission in the college based on NEET examination. The college has 50% quota for state-domicile students and the other 50% is for the students across the country. The fees for the students who took admission through the state quota was 4 Lakh per annum and for others it was 5 Lakh per annum. Now through the notice, we have been informed to pay Rs 19.76 Lakh per annum. This is for the students of the first year and the second year (2016 and 2017 batch). What is even more bizarre is that the second year students are now asked to pay the new fee for this academic year and the difference amount of last academic year which comes upto almost Rs 35 Lakh by May 31.”
The student also added that during the admission, the students are made to sign an affidavit which says that the college reserves right to increase fees. Thinking it to be a nominal fee hike, the students went ahead and signed on it, without which they would not be allowed to take admission. “The affidavit says that in case of fees hike, we are required to comply to it. We thought that the hike of the fees will not be more than 10%-20%, however, the new fees hike is close to 400%. Many of my batchmates and I had joined this college because of the affordable fee structure. How does the management expect us to pay such huge amount? When we put across these questions in front of our management, the only thing they say is you have already signed the affidavit. We students feel trapped. Even if we wish to leave the college, we have to pay almost Rs 51 lakh.”
No proper response from college management
Another protesting student said that protesting students were addressed by the Vice Chancellor (VC) and the management only on two occasions, “The VC and the management failed to properly address our grievances. They themselves appeared to be confused on the whole issue. The court had ordered the college management in November to prepare an outline of revised fees and submit it in three months, however, the college management went ahead and issued the notice regarding the fee hike without getting approval from the court.”
The student added that the protesting students have even been joined by parents as well. “Some of the parents have even joined us. In other colleges, since no formal notice has been issued, the students are unable to miss classes and join us. However, we are joined by parents of some of those students.”
In a bid to dissuade the protesting students, the management has now cut the power supply. A student told The Logical Indian, “They cut the electricity supply. Since we have been protesting day and night, our seniors are lending their support by helping us with the food supplies.”
Parents’ committee to file PIL
The parents are contemplating filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL). “The parents’ committee are planning to file a PIL to challenge this decision”, the student said.
Regarding this issue, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawat told that the medical colleges are established by spending crores of money and that opposing these institutions which invest so much is not good for the state. He also said that it has become a tradition to protest against everything.
It is very disappointing that the students have been put in such situation. The students have taken admission in the college on the basis of merit and most of them belong to middle-class families. It is quite impossible for them to pay such huge amount. CM’s comment seems to further discredit the struggles of these students. The Logical Indian hopes that justice prevails.
Also published on Medium.