The college maintains that it is abiding by an interim order issued by the High Court, which fixed the yearly fee at Rs 1.37 lakh from Rs 97,000.

Cant increase it when matter is in court Protest against Hyd college for fee hikeStudents protesting on June 29
news Education Monday, July 02, 2018 - 18:18

For over a year now, students at the Sreenidhi Institute of Science and Technology in Ghatkesar and their parents have been at loggerheads with the management. The reason – a fee hike of Rs 40,000 per year for B Tech students.

Parents say that the college is arbitrarily asking them to pay the increased fee – Rs 1.37 lakh per annum – when the matter is sub judice in the Telangana High Court. Further, they also allege that the students are being harassed by the college management if the parents do not cough up the amount.

Meanwhile, the college maintains that it is abiding by an interim order issued by the High Court, which fixed the yearly fee at Rs 1.37 lakh.

Frequent protests – with over 2,000 students and parents in attendance – have been happening against the college for the past several weeks.

The issue

Prasad Rao, the General Secretary of Sreenidhi Institute of Science and Technology Parents Association, explains that the issue began in 2016. At that time the annual fee was Rs 91,000.

“The college increased it by Rs 6,000 at that time. That was the first instance that students protested. But since the college reasoned that we had signed an undertaking which obligated us to pay the fees if it is increased by the Telangana Admission Fee Regulatory Committee, we accepted and remained quiet,” he says.

A few months later, the college went to the High Court, challenging the Telangana Admission Fee Regulatory Committee’s capping off the fee at Rs 97,000. The institute demanded that the fee be increased to Rs 1.37 lakh. An interim order was issued by a single judge in the college’s favour.

Following this, the college began to implement the hiked fee. Parents argue, however, that the matter is still being heard in court and therefore, they are not liable to pay the extra Rs 40,000 until the final court order and a government order (GO) to that effect was issued.

DV Krishna Rao, the treasurer of the Parents’ Association, argues, “The matter is pending before a bench, and the college does not even have a GO. Our point is simple – if they have the GO, we will pay the fees tomorrow. But why fleece students and their parents when there is no official order?”

Allegations of harassment

Prasad alleges that despite the protests and the matter remaining to be heard in court, the college has been employing tactics to harass the students.

Saikiran, a third year B Tech student, says that last semester a number of his batchmates were sent into the examination hall half-an-hour later because they did not pay the increased fees.

“In many cases, they have asked students to pay Rs 80,000 or more for the past two years as well, without giving them enough time to arrange such large amounts,” he adds.

There are also allegations of placements being withheld for students who do not toe the line.

The Parents’ Association has made representations to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and to the Education Minister Kadiyam Srihari, who told them that the state government would look into it. However, nothing has happened.

“We are parents at the end of the day, we don’t know how to do politics. You think about it – it’s an increase of Rs 40,000. For a four year course, this comes up to Rs 1,60,000 for us. If we have three kids, how are middle class families supposed to educate them if we have to spend this much for each,” Prasad rues.

The college’s stance

Meanwhile, Dr K Sumanth, the present Dean of Academics and former principal of the college, justifies the college’s stance.

When asked why the college is not waiting for a GO before demanding the increased fees, he argues that the students who got admission in 2016 had signed an undertaking which informed them that the fee structure may change as per the Telangana Admission Fee Regulatory Committee’s orders.

“We had requested a revised fee of Rs 1,54,000 but the High Court allowed for Rs 1,37,000. We are fine with that also. We cannot keep waiting for the GO because the state government is just not responsive. The Court’s word is above all else and we are simply following that. If we get a final order which revises the fee to Rs 97,000, we will be returning or adjusting that amount. But until then, this is what the students and parents have to follow,” Dr Sumanth says.

When asked about the allegations of harassment, he says that it is not harassment but that they let the students write the exams half-an-hour late on “humane” grounds.

“It is true we restrained the students from writing their exams. They tell us every semester that they would pay the pending Rs 40,000 the next semester, but that never happens. But we don’t want them to miss the exam altogether, we are also humane,” he justifies.

“The state government is not bearing our expenses and paying salaries to teachers in our college. We also have to sustain. We are going by the High Court order,” Dr Sumanth reiterates.

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