Atul Krishna|Apr 16, 2021
IIT Delhi: Students complain about hostel fee hike, new charges
IIT Delhi: The pandemic, HEFA loan and decision to not subsidise hostels have contributed to the increase.
New Delhi: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi slowly raised the fee for its hostels, and students have begun complaining about it. Most of the increase occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
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The IIT Delhi campus was closed due to the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, but from July onwards, it started letting some students back in. However, all students were asked to pay an additional Rs 50 per day as hostel fees apart from the regular admission and semester fees from October. This was ultimately implemented from December.
An email from the dean, student affairs, on November 20, said: "Students have the choice to vacate the hostel by December 10, 2020, if they do not want to pay the mess rebate charges." Students who would not be willing to pay the additional fee were asked to vacate the hostel with their belongings.
Also from July 2020, every student who had returned to the hostel was asked to pay Rs 200 per day as mess charges.
Again, through another email from the dean of student affairs on February 12, 2021, the institute asked the students to make an advance payment for the current semester by February 25, 2021. "Caretakers must make sure that any student getting on-boarded should be allotted hostel rooms only after the student has paid all remaining dues if any, and an advance of INR 25,000," said the email.
Plus, research scholars fear that the rent will go up for A-type houses allotted to them after they are renovated. Originally for employees, A-type houses were later allotted to married research scholars. As per another letter to researchers, a “whopping amount” is being spent on renovating these flats for which the institute has taken a loan from the Higher Education Finance Agency.
IIT Delhi: Explaining the hike
When the students approached the administration, they were given multiple reasons for the sudden hike in fees to start with the pandemic.
"One circular came saying that in many months, no salary etc had been given and it is very difficult to survive [for the employees and daily wage earners]", said a research scholar. Students believe 300 daily-wagers were sacked during the pandemic but IIT Delhi director, V Ramgopal Rao said, “No one has been sacked. All the daily wage earners are still working with us.”
The mess’ functioning with a limited number of students on board during the lockdown period added to the problems with expenses. The institute has thus decided to collect advance payment for the next semester. A notification circulated on February 12 said that hostel accommodation will be cancelled for students who will fail to pay the advance hostel fee by March 20.
However, the increase in the cost of student residences on the IIT Delhi campus is also linked to other, larger policy decisions on funding and expansion. In another email to researcher scholars and student representatives on hostel facilities and cost, the administration said: "The institute has spent a whopping amount on renovating the A-type houses and the HEFA loan taken for the purpose has to be paid back.” The Higher Education Finance Agency was set up by the education ministry (then, ministry of human resource development) in 2017 to extend infrastructure loans to public institutions, replacing capital grants. The institution would have to repay the principal amount while the government would pay the interest. Much promoted initially, the Centre drastically reduced funding to the agency in the Union Budget 2021 for the forthcoming financial year. IIT Delhi had taken a loan of Rs 580 crore.
The letter further said: “The institute is trying to rationalise the fee structure of hostels as per the directive from the government of India to make BHM [Board for Hostel Management] into a cost centre which means that institute will no longer subsidise the facilities they are currently providing.” It also said that rental charges of new facilities will be “much higher” as these are “dictated by market forces and the fact that we are extremely short of accommodation on campus". The letter also pointed out that one section of students sharing rooms pay far more than some research scholars occupying flats with kitchens attached.
IIT Delhi Student Affairs Council
Rao told Careers360 that the issue will be taken up in the students' affairs council (SAC) meeting.
"We received an email. I told them we can discuss it in the students' affairs council meeting when all the student representatives will be there. I asked them to put it up as an agenda item for discussion,” he said. “As a policy, if we decide not to take fees, we can return the amount." The meeting will be held next week.
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