Mumbai: The strike by students at the four campuses of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) continues over payment of fees.
The TISS campus in Mumbai, has almost 2,500 students. All theses students, including students of TISS campuses in Guwahati, Tuljapur and Hyderabad, have boycotted lectures and submissions, alleging the institute has indulged in fee hikes which are contradictory to the institutes' claims of social justice.
"From 2015 onwards, students who fall under the SC, ST, OBC Post Matric scholarship, have been asked to pay their college, hostel and mess fees upfront. This puts a sudden burden on the students," said Gaurav Gharde (28), a student of M Phil with TISS. "For now, only SC and ST students are being given the fee waivers, OBC students have been asked to pay the course fees along with hostel and dining hall fees," Gharde added.
"TISS has always made claims about being committed to social justice. The students from underprivileged communities can reach higher levels of education only with financial assistance," said Yashwant Zagade, who is doing his M Phil after completing his masters here, adding, "If you put financial burden on a student at the masters level, they will have to turn to jobs and not go for a PhD."
The TISS administration says they are doing all they can. "It is not mandatory for us to give a waiver on college fees, dining and hostel fees. Yet we have been providing these waivers. Internal auditors and CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General), asked us not to provide complete waivers as students are getting Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), so we decided to stop the assistance," said PK Shajahan, Dean-Student Affairs, TISS.
"We do not get any funds from the government. We have limited resources and funds. We are doing all we can for the students. We have continued the waiver for the batches of 2016-18 and 2017-19 but will have to charge the 2018-19 batch," Shajahan said, adding, "We are trying to mobilise resources and help students from underprivileged communities financially."
"TISS has seen 46 per cent fee hike in the last three years. TISS is expanding its branches to Kerala and Bihar and they are completely ignoring the primary stakeholders here. Whatever is the allocation of funds and expenditures, should be made public," said Zagade.
"Since 2015, since financial assistance of the OBC students was taken away, the 27 per cent expected quota of OBC students has seen only 18 per cent seats being enrolled. This is a clear attack on affirmative action. They can't differentiate between underprivileged communities like this. We will continue this strike for the sake of future batches," said Zagade.