Activists of Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) and other progressive students organisations held a joint protest demonstration on 7th September, 2020, against Ambedkar University, Delhi, on their decision of doing away with the provision of 100% fee waiver to students of the SC (Scheduled Caste), ST (Scheduled Tribe) and PWD (Persons with Disability) categories. According to official sources and news reports, the University is set to do away with this provision from the current academic batch of 2020-21. The proposed policy shall officially come into effect from 8th September, 2020, onward, after the completion of all formal processes. This in effect means that fee exemption by the University shall now be granted only on the basis of income certificates.
It should be known that the academic fees in Delhi Government Ambedkar University is exorbitantly high in comparison to other Delhi government-funded colleges. The high fee of AUD compels a large number of students from weaker and marginalised sections to forego admission even if they are somehow able to clear the entrance examinations or cutoff marker. The current ‘fee-waiver’ policy of AUD is a façade, meant to hide the disastrously large amount of money still collected as fee after subtracting the waived part of its ‘tuition fee’.
Instead of directly subsidising higher education, the façade of fee waiver serves as a ploy for the Delhi government to cut funds granted to other institutions run by it. In this context, it is necessary to note that the fee being charged for the various UG or PG courses at AUD is 5-6 times of the fee taken for same course in the fully funded Delhi Government colleges under Delhi University. A case in point is the first year annual fee of various colleges — for BA (Prog)/B Com, the annual fee in Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, University of Delhi, a fully-funded Delhi government college, is Rs 9,830. On the other hand, the annual fee for the same bachelor’s courses in AUD is Rs 53,880 (Rs 29,440+24,440), which is more than five times the fee of a fully-funded college.
It is also important to note here that in this Delhi Government 100% Funded Colleges, the fee is distributed into nearly 40 categories, with Rs. 5 being charged as admission fee and Rs. 180 as the tuition fee for the Session 2020-21 (from May to April). There is no such transparency in the break-up of fee in AUD, and the whole amount is charged under a single head of ‘Tuition fee’. Hence, if we compare the annual tuition fee at AUD, Rs. 42,880 in this case, with Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s Rs 180, the tuition fee charged at AUD is 238 times the tuition fee at a fully-funded government college.
KYS condemns the current changes in the fee waiver policy of Ambedkar University and berates the University administration for its highly Brahmanical and elitist mentality. The University authorities are clearly overlooking the needs of marginalised sections of society, promoting exclusion and sheltering Brahmanism in the name of Baba Saheb BR Ambedkar.
KYS pledges to continue its struggle until the proposed changes in the policy are revoked.