As students demand roll back of hike, IIT-B reduces mess fee

Mumbai A day before postgraduate students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) plan to start their hunger strike against a recently introduced fee hike, the administration announced a reduction in semester mess advance (SMA) fee.

In a letter sent to students on Friday, the dean of student affairs shared news about the reduction of fees by 1,800 for PG students and 1,500 for UG students. The administration has also allowed students to pay the SMA fees in two instalments.

However, students have called this move ‘correction of fees’ and not a reduction, and have clarified that they will still participate in the hunger strike unless the institute rolls back the hike.

“The reduction of SMA can in no way be considered an accomplishment of our objectives. The hefty and compounded one-time increase by the fee committee in non-tuition fee for all students and in tuition fees for new students immediately after the pandemic shows extreme ignorance on part of the administration towards the financial status of students,” said a statement released by the students of the institute on Friday.

This agitation started in early July, when the IIT-B administration first proposed a fee hike of nearly 35% for all their postgraduate programmes. The authorities highlighted how the hike was approved by the Board of Governors nearly three years back, but its implementation was halted due to the pandemic.

However, students stated that the fee hike is nearly 45% in certain courses, and called it unfair.

In an open house discussion held last week between the college administration and students, the administration stated that roll back of fees is not possible which prompted students to intensify their protests.

“Since our demand for complete rollback of fee hike has not been accepted by the IIT administration, we are now forced to go ahead with the hunger strike as previously planned starting Saturday, August 6,” said a protesting student.