NLS student body up in arms over fee hike

National Law School of India University (NLSIU). DH file photo

Angered by a substantial hike in college fees, the student body at the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) is set to mount a protest to demand the withdrawal of the increases.

The central bone of contention, according to members of the student body is that although the decision to hike fees was made two years ago, students only found about it following what they described as a “discreet” note placed on the university website.

What is also unusual, according to Professor Sidharth Chauhan of NALSAR in Hyderabad and a former faculty member of NLSIU, is that the new fee structure applies to currently enrolled students, and not just the incoming batch, which started classes on Monday.

“This is rare because normally such fee increases are applicable only to new batches,” he said.

The vice-chancellor of the university, Dr R Venkata Rao declined to comment on the issue and deferred the matter to the registrar, who did not respond to a request for comment.

Students said that the over 25% hike has increased annual fees by an estimated Rs 50-60,000 for domestic students and over 1 lakh for foreign students.

“This increase is placing a heavy burden on students from India, but even more so for foreign students,” said a senior student who did not wish to be identified. He warned that the increasing of fees for students in mid-course would set a bad precedent, affecting higher education in India, while altering the demographics of the university itself.

“The university will become elitist, populated by a larger number students from the upper and upper-middle classes,” he said.

A 2016 study found that the university’s annual intake of 80 students included a reservation of 5 seats for foreign nationals, 12 for scheduled castes, 6 for scheduled tribes, 2 for person with disabilities and 55 for general. The dropout rate during the census period was 3.53%.

Several students told DH that the new fees will cause the dropout rate to increase. Krishna Aditya, a second-year student who said that his father’s annual income comprised a little over a lakh, explained that his university fees last year were 2 lakh, plus living expenses of Rs 50,000.

“Now, my fees are Rs 2.5 lakhs and while I am on a scholarship, I don’t have the extra money,” he said.

The senior student pointed out government scholarships are approved months before and increases have to be applied for beforehand.

“This sudden increases leaves many in the lurch. How can we pay? Many from economically limited backgrounds will have to drop-out,” he said.

Comments (+)