After degree students, students pursuing other professional courses in colleges affiliated to Hyderabad’s Osmania University (OU) are now protesting OU’s move asking them to pay the exam fee by June 12.
Due to the lockdown that was imposed to contain COVID-19, some of these students hailing from rural areas had started taking up the responsibilities of their families as their aged parents are not in a position to earn due to various health ailments. Now the exam fee and the consequent expenses of writing these exams is adding to their worries.
A student, who has turned daily wage labourer for survival, told TNM, “I’m from Karimnagar, but due to the high number of COVID-19 cases there is no work there. I somehow managed to come to my relative’s place in Korutla (about 250 km from Hyderabad), where I’m working in a mango farm as a daily wage labourer to support my family.”
“I couldn’t even attend the online classes due to lack of infrastructure. Now the college is asking us to pay the exam fee in the middle of this crisis, which comes to Rs 2,000, and there is an additional Rs 1,200 for backlogs. How are we supposed to manage this now?” asked Akram*, a student from a city engineering college.
To write the exams, some of the students who had gone back to their villages have to come to the city where most colleges are located. They will then have to take up some accommodation at least for the duration of the exam. They will have to spend money for all of this. In addition, as there is no public transport available in the city, they will need to spend on autos and cabs as well, which is not affordable for many students.
Exam dates and timetables have not been confirmed yet but students expect that they might be conducted soon as the next academic year starts.
Students say that they would easily need to spend Rs 10,000 towards these exam expenses at a time when their families don’t have any income. Above all, most parents from rural areas are not willing to send their students to the city fearing the coronavirus infection.
“My mother is asking me to write the exams in the next semester and not to take any risk now, as I’m the only one earning some income for the family. If I fall sick now, we will suffer financially. As my father has breathing issues, he has not been working since the lockdown began,” said another student, who didn’t want to be named.
Some students have taken up part-time jobs to pay their college fees, but say it’s not a cakewalk for them and these exams are only an additional burden.
“I’m working as a food delivery executive and my mother works as a cook. But due to the lockdown, our income was lost, so how can we afford to pay the exam fee? The government needs to think about all sections of people before taking a decision,” added Anil Kumar, another engineering student.
There are also students from Assam, West Bengal and other states pursuing different courses. For them to reach Telangana by crossing state borders is going to be a difficult task in the current situation. Some students had vacated their rooms and will have to pay the deferred rent if they come back for the exams.
Mohammad Fazeeluddin, a law student who is currently staying in Jagtial, said, “My father has a cycle repair shop that was closed during the lockdown period. We don’t have any income to even run our family and on top of that we’re being asked to pay the exam fee.”
He added that he was not informed by the college that there were online classes going on and came to know about it only after a month through friends.
“When all the other universities in the country have either cancelled exams or are conducting it online, OU is prioritising revenue over their students. There are no guidelines from any government yet, then how can OU conduct the exams?” questioned Abul Fazal, an engineering student from a Hyderabad-based college.
The students have also launched a campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #BoycottOUexamfee to boycott the move and demanded that OU roll back the exam fee notification, Fazal added.
* Name changed