Over 100 former students of Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) have written to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry condemning the over 100 per cent fee hike within a span of 10 years and demanding a rollback. Students at the IIMC had begin an agitation last week over fee hike. As many as 120 alumni of the institute wrote to the secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I and B), expressing solidarity with the protesting students.
The secretary, Ministry of I and B, is also the chairman of the IIMC Society which governs the institute. A copy of the letter has also been sent to the Director General of IIMC.
The fee increase by over 100 per cent across journalism courses and regional language courses, respectively, in a decade is staggering by the standards of any government-run institute in India, the former students said in the latter.
The IIMC, in a statement issued on December 8, said it is not a "funded institute" but the website of the institute says it is very much so. It is "utterly shocking" to learn that IIMC has turned from being an institute funded by the government to one which has to generate a third of the fund from internal revenue, the alumni said.
Not only this change has come without adequate discussion among all stakeholders but also the institute's website still fails to enlist such crucial information for the perusal of citizens of India, they said.
"Such a move is bound to move the institute away from catering to the masses. May we also recall that at an executive council meeting a decade ago it was decided that course fees would be increased by 10 per cent every year.
"While that itself, to our mind, is unreasonable, the increases in fees between 2018-19 and 2019-20 are way above that level: 27 per cent for language journalism courses, 17 per cent for advertising and 16 per cent for all other courses," the letter said.
IIMC's massive fee is topped up by the charges its students have to pay to avail hostels: a steep Rs 5,250 per month for men (on a triple-sharing basis) and Rs 6,500 per month for women (single-occupancy), it said.
All male students at the Delhi campus are not even accommodated and those left out have to arrange for their own accommodation without any scope of reimbursement, the alumni said in the letter.
A sizeable section of the students of this prestigious institute come from weak financial background, they said.
"Many have to borrow and/or mortgage family assets to finance and facilitate their studies. There are several whose families survive on daily wages. Freeships to select students, as the institute claims, are no panacea because it affects a larger landscape," the former students said. Highlighting that 28 reserved category seats remained vacant despite re-examination, they said the fee hike is "anti-education" and "anti-student" and demand that it be rolled back with immediate effect.
They also demanded that the decision to increase fees by 10 per cent annually be suspended for all the upcoming sessions and reexamined by all stakeholders, including students and officials, until a consensus is reached and that IIMC's fee structure be brought on a par with other public educational institutions.
"Besides the fee structure, the fact that none of the five regional centers -- Aizwal, Amravati, Kottayam, Jammu and Dhenkanal-- have even a single full-time faculty member is also something which deeply worries all of us," they added.