For charging fees way over the limit set by Osmania University (OU), a case of cheating has been booked against a Hyderabad-based degree college affiliated to the university. The police complaint was filed by three students with the help of activists, after realising that they have paid fees way over the limit set by OU.
The case has been filed against the management of St.Francis Xavier Degree College, King Koti. Vijay Gopal, president of the Forum Against Corruption filed the case at Kachiguda Police Station on Tuesday. The police were initially hesitant to register the case, saying the matter pertains to the education board, alleged the activist.
The degree college was found to be charging Rs 30,000 from students for B.Com (General) course, while the fee authorised by OU is Rs 7,000 per year.
The college was also found to be collecting Rs 1,155 as yearly exam fee for B.Com and other courses. A fee was being collected over the prescribed limit even for clearing backlogs. The students have submitted fee receipts from the degree college as proof.
The yearly tuition fee for degree courses offered by self-funded private institutions in Telangana is regulated by the Telangana State Council for Higher Education (TSCHE) and the state university to which the degree college is affiliated to.
The practice of collecting fees way over the limit is a crime that can attract imprisonment for up to three years under the Telangana State Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and prohibition of capitation fee) Act 1983. The act mandates that the colleges/educational institutions also refund the excess money collected from the student. But the law is hardly enforced in the state.
Calling for action, many students from these degree colleges along with activists, are now considering to file a petition with the High Court in June.
â€śI already paid the fees for one year and if I quit the college, I will lose a year now. There are two other students who have filed the case along with me but there has been a lot of support from my fellow students. Earlier when they charged fees for the exam, I had pointed it out to the principal who said don't ask questions,â€ť said Harshita M, second year B.Com student at St Francis Xavier degree college. â€śI am ready to face anything as we are right and the college is wrong,â€ť she added.
Vijay had earlier written to the Osmania University Vice-Chancellor and the chairman of the TSCHE in May this year, requesting them to take action against the degree colleges. But, he did not receive any response.
Speaking to TNM, the chairman of TSCHE, Pappi Reddy, put the onus of taking action against degree colleges on the Osmania University officials."They are supposed to take the action, not us. Maybe if they say we are to take action, we will.â€ť The chairman assured that he would look into the issue of degree college fees.
The OU Vice-chancellor S Ramachandram had no clue that such a case was registered. "It's a good thing that these students have filed a case. We are yet to receive any communication about this case, will have to check with the office,â€ť said the VC, who also assured action.
As per UGC guidelines, each university is required to appoint an Ombudsman for redressal of student grievances. OU has an â€śacademic audit cellâ€ť that accepts student grievances, consisting of five members. Degree college students had pointed out that there was no means by which they could reach out to the OU to file a complaint. When asked about this, the VC only said, â€śWe will look into it.â€ť
"Nobody knows that apart from school fees, all their fees from higher education all the way up to PhD are regulated, the parents and students may not know it but the degree colleges sure do, but still they hike the fees," said Vijay Gopal who intends to file a similar case against St Josephs degree college for collecting Rs 75,000 as annual fee from students this week. "The police were initially hesitant to file the case as there is no precedent. No one has filed a case against degree colleges for collecting higher fees before. I got to know about this after students reached out to me," he added.