Forced to Leave My Studies Due to TISS Hyderabad’s Hostel Fee
At least 20 students have gone on an indefinite hunger strike.
Students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad have been on strike against the exclusionary practices of the “premier institute” since Monday, 8 July. Despite the strike reaching its fifth day and several Dalit students about to drop out, the administration has turned a blind eye to students’ problems and remained unresponsive.
On Friday, 12 July, the administration denied meeting the students. At least 20 students have gone on an indefinite hunger strike.
This protest is a long-standing one, and is not limited to the Hyderabad branch of the institution. The government of India post-metric scholarship (GOI-PMS) students, who belong to marginalised communities, have been engaged in many protests over the previous few years. While students want to complete their higher education and refine their skill set, these disturbances are impinging on their academics.
The protest was stirred primarily because of the hostel fee structure’s amendment. Earlier, students for marginalised communities paid Rs 15,000 in three instalments and the Dining Hall charges on a monthly basis. However, this was only after they received student aid and state scholarships. The system was scrapped when the institute’s operations were moved to a different campus. The new private service provider asked for payment to be made in advance for six months or a year.
We are now being asked to pay an accommodation fee of Rs 54,650 (for six months) at one go while taking admission. Wouldn’t this reserve accommodation exclusively for the privileged?
This came despite the 2018-20 session guidelines stating that accommodation should be provided to students of all categories and not only GoI-PMS. The UGC guidelines mention provision of hostel facilities for 25 percent of students. Thus, no one category should be advantaged at the cost of others.
My classmates and I are living with relatives and friends because of the same. Our studies, research, classes and assignments are being compromised. It is emotionally taxing to adjust in other people’s houses and we ask: How long?
We don’t have a permanent residence and many students are losing out on education because of these problems. We are tense because of the lack of basic needs i.e. shelter and food. A classmate put it aptly,
“I come from a marginalised community and the the area I live in doesn’t offer quality education. I opted for TISS because I needed the hostel facilities and the safety attached with it. It’s very difficult for students who are already living in the hostel to pay in full. They have no place to go. Now, my friends and I are staying with other students who have taken a house on rent, and we are somehow managing to pay. But it’s very difficult.”
These are our concerns, and we appeal to the hostel provider and the administration to heed our grievances and resolve them. As of now, they are not taking any responsibility regarding the issues.
The administration says that the hostel is ‘private’ and our access to it is a ‘personal issue’, but why then is there a tariff card for hostel prices on the TISS website?
Students can’t do this at an individual level. Moreover, if the hostel is private then why does the college guarantee accommodation? The students are being treated poorly. In the coming months, the schedule will get more hectic... how can we focus like this? We are fighting for our rights. They ask us not to protest, but why won’t we if our demands are not fulfilled.
Another friend remarked,
“Students who belong to marginalised communities don’t have a permanent income source. It’s impossible for them to pay six months in advance. That’s why they are fighting this issue with the TISS administration. Parents of these students don’t earn more than Rs 35,000. How do you expect them to pay?”
He is contemplating whether he should complete the course or not.
“I belong to a marginalised community from Odisha. Looking at the hostel fee, I have decided to leave the course if there is no solution, because I can’t afford it. The government is also not providing any scholarship. Marginalised students can pay maximum Rs 3,000 to 4,000. It’s is impossible to pay. How can students continue to study further and do something for their community?”
The fees should be decreased, or allowed to be paid in instalments or through the student aid. A full payment is not possible, at times even for students from the general category. If we stay for four months, we should pay only for those four months. This will be very helpful for GOI-PMS students as well as others. Otherwise, we will be forced to leave.
(The author is a student at TISS Hyderabad and wishes to stay anonymous. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)
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