PU Syndicate hikes fee by 10 per cent for new admissions

THE PANJAB University Syndicate on Sunday approved a hike of 10 per cent for new admissions and 5 per cent for old admissions for the 2018-19 session.

It said the fee had been revised to increase the income of constituent colleges and teaching departments of the university. The Syndicate has also approved a reduction in fee for some self-financed courses. Earlier, it was proposed that the fee should be increased by 20 per cent that was amounting to a hike of Rs 1,000 per annum in traditional and professional courses, but now a minimum annual increase of Rs 750 per annum has been approved.

However, student organisations have expressed their dissent and said the university could not burden the students in any way by increasing the fee. The Panjab University Campus Students’ Council has strongly opposed it. “Now that even the Punjab government has released funds for the university and agreed to pay the deficit, we feel that the fee hike is baseless and stand with the students on this issue,” said Vani Sood, secretary, PUCSC.

“This is not the permanent solution to make up for the university deficit. The Punjab government has enhanced the grant of the university and students will still have to shoulder the burden of a fee hike,” said Harman Maan, leader of Indian Students’ Association. Even the Students For Society (SFS) that spearheaded the protest against a fee hike of up to 1,000 per cent in April 2017 criticised the Syndicate’s decision.

“The authorities are habitually increasing the fee. Last year’s protest was the expression of ‘no to fee hikes’. The authorities have raised the fee at an opportune moment when students are busy with exams and do not have time to protest,” said Harman Deep, media in-charge, SFS. The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) blamed the PUCSC. “This is the failure of the leadership of the student council. They were unable to pressure the university authorities. We will protest against the fee hike; education is not for sale,” said Harmanjot Gill, a senior ABVP leader.

The row over the affidavit regarding governance reforms submitted by Vice-Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover before the Punjab and Haryana High Court took a nasty turn when the V-C refused to withdraw the affidavit. Prof Grover reiterated his stand stating that he will inform the court that the affidavit contained his personal comprehension and he did not discuss these with the Syndicate. The Syndics, in a first, agreed to revoke the V-C’s powers given to him by them to make decisions on their behalf. Only one Syndic, Prof Ronki Ram, stood in support of the V-C.

“We said if you [V-C] don’t have faith in us, then we [Syndics] don’t have faith in you and we revoke your powers,” said Syndic Prabhjit Singh. He added that the Registrar has also been directed to file an affidavit in the High Court by May 6, stating that the reform committee has been formed and the Syndicate and Senate were in full agreement when it came to governance reforms at the university. “We will also report the matter to the Chancellor and tell him that the V-C has refused to act according to the decision of the Syndicate. I don’t know under what compulsion he filed the affidavit because the reform committee has not even submitted a report,” Singh said.

Regarding the sexual harassment charges against Prof Komal Singh of the Department of Public Administration, the Syndicate has recommended the strictest action possible as students’ safety could not be compromised. To this effect, a special Senate meeting will be called on May 27. On April 1, a five-hour debate to decide the punishment for Prof Komal Singh failed to get a two-third majority vote in the Senate. The Syndicate discussed the letter from PU Committee Against Sexual Harassment (PUCASH) regarding the Senate proceedings. The PUCASH said PU, as one of the leading educational institutions of India, with a majority of female students must uphold a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for sexual harassment.

The Syndicate, in principle, agreed to the proposal of the students of University Business School (UBS), regarding resource generation to improve academic facilities. However, it was decided that a comprehensive proposal should be provided by the UBS.