Need a room with a view of DU
HOUSE-HUNTING: AS NEW SESSION BEGINS, FRESHERS WORRY ABOUT SOMEWHERE TO STAY
After crossing the first hurdle of getting admitted in a Delhi University undergraduate college, many freshers face another daunting challenge – finding accommodation.
While a handful of students get lucky and bag a seat in the few colleges which have hostels, the remaining lot of outstation students have to settle for paying guest accommodation or independent flats in areas around their college. The new academic season has just begun.
DU has some 60-odd colleges spread all over the city; not more than 18 have hostel facilities. Though all 10 colleges located in North Campus have hostels, not all of them offer this facility to both male and female students.
Colleges like St Stephen's, Ramjas and Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa have hostel facilities for both male and female students. While colleges like Hindu, Kirori Mal, Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), Hans Raj are co-ed institutions, they have hostels for boys only. North Campus girls colleges – Miranda House, Daulat Ram and Indraprastha College for Women – have hostels for their students. While Khalsa College recently opened its hostel facility for girls, Hindu is still in the process of starting construction of a girls hostel.
“DU has less hostel facilities for its women students specially at the undergraduate level. While DU has set up around three postgraduate women’s hostels in the campus, the recently constructed undergraduate hostel which can accommodate around 700 students is still not open,” said a senior DU official.
Officials say the increase in the number of women students at the UG and PG level is being witnessed since the last 10 years or so. In 2011, out of around 64,000 admissions in DU's regular colleges, around 24,000 were girl students.
But even where hostels are available for boys, getting a place in them is tough. “We usually take the toppers in our hostel. A total of 75 students from first year are selected from various courses. The hostel has a total of 150 seats,” said the media co-ordinator of Sri Venkateswara College which built its hostel for girls and boys three years back.
In South Campus, the hostel facility is not provided even in most of the girls colleges.
Lady Shri Ram (LSR) has a hostel, but other girls colleges like Gargi, Maitreyi, Jesus and Mary and Kamla Nehru are still without them.
“Maintaining a hostel is a Herculean task. The first task is to maintain discipline in the hostel as well as in the college. Then, getting mess contractors is another issue,” added the Venkateswara spokesperson. Students complain about the menu, and when authorities tell the contractors not to increase prices, the quality suffers.
Providing uninterrupted power and water is also an issue. “Delhi has a problem of power and water supply, unless you have backup generators like we have, it gets difficult,” he added.
Officials at girls colleges add that apart from these problems, security is a high priority.“When you make a hostel in a girls college, its not just concrete you are adding,” said a principal from an all-girls college in South Campus.
“You need to add adequate faculty like wardens to keep a constant check. After all parents trust us blindly when they send their ward here. Also, most of the girls colleges are 10-15 years old when compared to the campus co-ed colleges, some of which are even 50-60 years old. Construction of a hostel takes time and lots of money,” the principal said.
In 2009, the University Grants Commission (UGC) invited applications under the 11th Five Year Plan from DU colleges which require hostels, with priority being given to construction of women's hostels.
“We also applied for a girls hostel under this scheme. Somehow we did not get the funds. Construction of an hostel takes at least a crore. The UGC can provide limited amount of money. Funding is the main problem,” said I S Bakshi, principal of off- campus college Dyal Singh. None of the off- campus colleges have hostel facilities.
“Even if one gets adequate funding, getting permission from various civic agencies takes a huge amount of time, sometimes even stretching to 10 years,” he added.
“The human resource development ministry should give instructions to civic agencies to clear our proposals on a fast track basis.”
He said when permissions are delayed the funding proposal lapses. “They need to understand it is for the benefit of the students.”
DU officials say colleges like Khalsa and Venkateswara have `strong managements' due to which they did not have much problems with the funding and getting speedy permissions.
“Khalsa has the Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, but not all colleges have such strong managements. DU has little role to play in the construction of hostels. It is the individual colleges which have to send their proposals according to the invitation sent by UGC,” said an official.
Another issue which students face even after getting a hostel seat is the rising hostel fees. Recently Khalsa College was criticised for high hostel fees for its newly- built girls hostel. But the college said the UGC had not given enough funds and the management had to shell out from its own kitty.
Several campus colleges have hiked their hostel fees this year citing inflation and the steep hike in electricity charges.
At SRCC, hostellers also have to pay Rs 38,065 (including electricity and water charges) for three months. “The electricity charges, costs of maintenance, sanitation and other facilities have gone up and we get no grants from the UGC for running the hostel,” said principal P C Jain.
During Commonwealth Games, DU colleges were given grants by the government for revamping colleges, including their hostels to accommodate foreign visitors. Several students union groups said that not much apart from minor touch-ups was done by college authorities.
But principals maintain that after the renovation, hostel maintenance has become expensive.
“We have to hike the fee to be able to bear the cost of basic amenities. The increase is going to be on actual basis and electricity charges will be divided among the residents in every semester,” Hans Raj College principal V K Kwatra said.